Thursday, December 4, 2014

Short Story - One Chance Christmas

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By Onyinye Orabuike

It's a couple of days into the month of December, and in church Last Sunday, the minister prayed for us for Christmas gift from heaven, and the church members chorused amen as if their lives depended on it. People are pressed to meet up with different targets they set for themselves for the year. Men who had their mind set on the dream car they want to take home for Christmas are making frantic bids to maximise sales.

Single ladies who believe that this year will not pass them by are intensifying prayers. I learnt that in some forums parents who for some reasons may not be able to travel to the village for Christmas make special plans for their daughters that are of marriageable age to travel so as to increase their chance of meeting suitors.

Some say the peculiar smell of Christmas is already in the air. It’s accompanied with huge price slash, upsurge of new products in the market, promos everywhere; on facebook, televisions, radio and billboards. Schools are getting ready to round up. Families  are warming up for Christmas shopping.

With all the excitements, expectations, anxiety, you would have thought that Christmas is more than just one day. Just one day really, but if you ask me, the joys of Christmas is well worth all hullabaloo except for some folks who take it a little bit too far.

About this period some years back, I was waiting at the bus top when a small car pulled up in front of me and asked if I was going to CMS. A short distance after i got in, the driver and a woman at the front seat began a heated argument over transport fare.

He made a big show of throwing her out in annoyance and went to the booth to bring out her load. The other occupants of the car pleaded with him to please bear with her and he remonstrated but was furious when he got back into the car. He demanded to know what she had inside the carton in the booth, and that was when the real drama started.

To make a long story short, the woman allegedly had in the booth a carton filled with dollar notes but had lied that it was exercise books. The driver was furious that she lied about it and that the presence of the money in his car could put him in trouble.  They were at it for awhile, and though I felt at some point that they were harassing the woman unduly I thought it better to mind my business.

The man that sat beside me became solicitous, trying to get me to join in quizzing the woman so they could get to the truth about the money.  I didn’t think that was necessary and told them so. They continued to quiz her all the same. The next thing that happened caught me unaware.

 Well, she broke down and confessed. She admitted to stealing the money from her husband, but then she too had a story to tell. She said that it wasn’t her fault at all. She was married with two children, but the husband has been beating and maltreating her. The man beats her for no reason and makes her to sleep with other men for money, at some points he even made her to have sex with dogs. In fact the man is a ritualist and had this particular room he forbade her from ever entering. So when the beatings and the maltreatments got too much for her she decided to run away.  On a second thought she entered the said room she was forbidden to enter, and behold it was filled with cartons of dollars so she picked one and ran away.

 The nauseating tale about dogs did it for me. I told the driver to take the woman straight to a police station because she was lying. The man beside me asked to calm down first let’s find out the truth about the money from the woman and see how we can share from it. I was very angry now. I told them there was no truth in what the woman said.

To begin with, she had no business telling such debased story.  I was so incensed I didn’t really observe the reactions of my listeners.  I told them I had a strong feeling that the woman is lying and just had to speak it out for the records, for all we know she may have killed someone to get that money.

They didn’t appear to agree with me so I just decided to ignore everyone. Shortly after this the car pulled to a stop and I noticed they were all looking at me. At first I thought the driver was asking me for the fare and I gave him. He didn’t collect it and I noticed they were all still looking at me. That was when it dawned on me that I was being asked to leave. I got down quietly and the car sped off.  They must have decided at some point that I was bad market.

 The whole charade was a common trick. Funny I have heard stories close to that before that time but not quiet along same lines. What set off the alarm for me was the woman’s story which sounded downright morbid and nauseating.  I didn’t even realise they were all together in the conspiracy.

Looking back, what I found difficult to understand was why anyone would put together such a despicable trick. It’s just sheer greed and get- rich- quick Christmas fever on their part. I'm just glad I didn't become one of their victims.

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