“My name is Nnenna, and yours?”
“That’s a strange name. I have never heard of such a name. I have heard of Ducat coins and stuff though, does it have any connection?”
“Yes, it has.”
“What do you do for a living Ducat?”
“I am a trader.”
“What do you trade?”
“Anything tradeable. I buy and sell precious metals like gold and silver. I buy and sell ideas. I buy and sell words. I sell my services. I buy and sell shares, name it. I buy and sell food stuff.”
“Wow, impressive. Where is your office? I must come and patronize you?”
“I don’t have an office.”
“Where do you operate from?”
“I am a mobile office. When you see me you have seen my office.”
“Take the next left and immediate right” Ducat instructed.
“This is deep inside” Nnenna remarked.
“I told you not to bother dropping me off and you insisted.”
“Oh, I wasn’t saying because it’s too far, I was only remarking that it’s quite way in and I was wondering if I will be able to veer my way out.”
“I will show you the way out. I need to drop off my toolbox. That’s my treasure!”
“I bet it is. Without that I would have been stuck tonight.”
Twenty minutes later Ducat was navigating Nnenna out of the depth of the interior to the main road again. At the main road, he ordered her to stop, so he could get off.
Nnena opened her wallet and counted out 5 crisp thousand naira notes and handed over to Ducat.
‘Never you allow a good deed to be embellished with some instant gratification. Let it stand out in the beauty of integrity of sacrifice. The reward is always more beautiful.’ Those words rang out in his mind and he declined the money, opened the door and stepped out of the car.
He began the long walk back to his house on empty belly. The noises and war drums in his belly were getting higher and louder. He needed food so badly. He was starving. He was in desperate need of food. Without a dime, he trudged on back home.
Laying on his mattress, exhausted mentally, physically and psychologically, he wondered what that five k would have done for him. He would have eaten a decent meal, he would have gone to Ojuelegba, his favourite spot for rendezvous. He would have seen Mercy and cracked some jokes. He would have been happy and he would have gone back home early in the morning tired from his kind of merriment and would sleep through Saturday morning. Was he a fool to have ignored the money. Why? Would that voice always come to haunt him? He was dead and gone. He was not here to give him food, yet his voice always echoed to him. His father !!!
He thought of bossman Tiger, who had not paid him his commission because Alhaji Musa had not paid yet. “These so called big men always took the mick out of us poor fellas” Ducat concluded. We cannot accost them. We do not have the wherewithal. He thought of his life. The trajectory, his life had taken. He reflected on all the missed opportunities of his life. He didn’t know what to make of it. His dad had passed away without leaving any inheritance for him. His uncle wanted to use him to make money without compensating him with some wages. His aunties did not want to see him. They thought he was a burden. He had no education. Yet he was exceptionally gifted with his hands. With these whirl of thoughts on his mind, his belly growling and rumbling. He got up from his mattress, poured out some water from his jerry can and drank some more. He searched his cabinet for the umpteenth time, no victual, no remnant of anything. He put on the music of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, “waka waka waka” from his music box, that he took from Akpan as a collateral for a loan he had given Akpan. He never came back to repay the loan and never cared about the music box. He tried to sing along until he fell asleep.