(Featured image courtesy of @ _the.g.h.o.s.t._(farabale on Instagram)
Azu (name has been changed) closed from work at an Abuja based employment agency and decided to do a little “kabu-kabu” to make some cash to support his wife who was pregnant and due in about a month.
As he crawled around the twisty roads of Asokoro looking for a fare, a young lady flagged him down. She wore a checkered dress with her head wrapped up. Her perfume was strong and overwhelmed Azu as she bent down a bit to announce her destination.
“Zone 4,” she said. “How much,” she added.
“1500 Naira,” Azu responded.
“I will pay 1000 Naira,” she counter offered. She was now a little less charming at close range. She appeared uncoordinated and her speech slurred.
Nevertheless, Azu reluctantly accepted. On a good day, he would have moved on. He didn’t feel right about picking up the lady.
As they rode towards zone 4, the lady asked,
“How much did you say the fare is.”
“Madam, I asked for 1500 Naira but you offered to pay 1000 Naira.”
“Okay, don’t worry,” said the lady.
A little later, the lady asked again.
“How much did you say is the fare, again?”
Azu became alarmed and began to think about the mental state of his passenger. So he put on an inside light and stole a look at her. She appeared agitated, had began trembling and biting her finger nails.
Azu contemplated feigning that his car had just developed a problem so that he could ask the lady to take another taxi. But when he thought of his pregnant wife and the fact that every Naira that comes in will help to cushion the financial challenge their expected baby will bring, he continued the journey but in trepidation.
So Azu responded again to the lady’s question.
“I said 1500 Naira madam but ….”
“Ok, ok, I remember now. Don’t worry about it. Just take me there and back to Asokoro. I will pay you 3000 Naira.”
Azu was happy about the outcome of the bargain but remained concerned about the young lady.
As they rolled into the nooks and crannies of zone 4, Azu depended on his unhinged fare for direction.
They drove into a rather hidden street with a horde of young men who began running around Azu’s car. As Azu was wondering what could be going on in the place, someone began hitting the back of his car.
Azu stopped the car and came out to pick a quarrel with the fellow.
“No vex my brother. Na my customer be this”, said the beaded hair young man, smiling sheepishly.
“Welcome ma, the usual?” He asked the young lady in Azu’s car.
“Yes, but make it three packs,” the lady responded.
The guy disappeared for a moment and returned with three small packs of what looked like white powder.
The lady paid with wads of mint fifty Naira notes. Azu reckoned that the cash may have been up to 200,000 Naira.
The lady quickly opened one of the little packs, poured some on her palm and sniffed vigorously. Then she picked a pinch into her mouth and swabbed around. She took a deep breath and flung her head over the back seat in apparent relief.
“Let’s go to the Sheraton area,” said the lady to Azu as she began fiddling with her bag. Azu could see bundles of dollars inside the bag as he looked via the inside mirror. Just one a little bundle would fix his immediate financial problems, he thought.
On instruction, Azu turned left off Ladi Kwali street just before Sheraton Hotel, an enclave of money changers. The lady spoke rapidly in a sweet Hausa language.
Azu could pick a little of the conversation. The deal was for the five thousand dollars in Naira. That’s close to two million Naira Azu quickly calculated.
“Take me to The Carlton in Asokoro.”
“Where is that?”
“It’s on Gada Nasco.”
“I don’t know the area very well.”
“Just go, I will direct you.”
As Azu pulled out, he became jittery. What if policemen stopped them on the way and did a check to find drugs and so much cash. He would be in serious trouble. His vehicle was not even licensed to pickup passengers in the first place. In this era of police killings and indiscriminate arrest, what would be his defence?
He put on the radio to help kill his ravaging thoughts.
“Can you put that silly thing off,” said the lady referring to the radio which was playing a rather noisy rap music.
As Azu flipped the radio off and crossed into Asokoro from the Presidential Villa end, he sighted police officers flashing touch lights.
Asu swallowed some spit. His palms turned misty as his heart palpitated violently. He slowed down to a stop.
“Well done officer,” he said half-heartedly.
“Ah Hajia, happy weekend,” one of the officers said ignoring Azu.
The other officers quickly came closer to pay hommage.
The lady dipped her hand into her bag and passed on some Naira notes to them.
Azu felt like someone recovering from a heart attack as he rolled off again into the night.
The lady made a quick call. Azu could hear her saying, “I will be with you guys in a few minutes.”
Finally, Azu pulled into The Wells Carlton and did the sign of the cross.
There, at the front of the Hotel was about half a dozen young men and ladies walking excitedly towards Azu’s car.
The lady paid Azu and disembarked. Azu did not count the cash. He zoomed off in relief that the ordeal was over. About a kilometer down the road, he stopped in a well lit area and counted how much the lady gave to him. It was 6,000 Naira, twice the sum he was expecting.
Azu’s body temperature dropped instantly. But as he drove home, he wondered how some of the children of the super rich end up so badly.