Amina: “Madam, I swear I didn’t touch your money, I didn’t even see it. I swear!”
Wasiu: “Madam, I never see N100, 000 for my life since wey my mama born me come this world, how I wan take steal wetin I no see?
Madam Shine: “You people are not serious, o. Nobody has seen my money and yet the money is missing. You people are the only ones that have the keys to my shop. If you don’t start talking now, I will have all of you arrested and thrown into cell until you produce my money”, she flips open her phone and dials a number but returns the phone to the table as the number refuses to go through.
Wasiu: “Madam, check am well, maybe the money dey hide inside the safe”.
Madam shine: “Will you shut up your dirty mouth there! How can money hide inside the safe and I won’t see it? Can’t you see that I have ransacked everywhere? Oloshi, Oloriburuku!”
Amina: “Maybe you misplaced it or maybe you mistakenly kept it inside your bag that yesterday. Maybe…”
Madam Shine: “My friend will you keep quiet there! What sort of stupid ‘maybes’ are you talking about? Nonsense!” Amina and Wasiu are used to the madam throwing all manner of insults at them at the slightest provocation but today’s insult was getting at them because they know that she will soon involve the police.
Madam Cash rushes in; she is the owner of the shop next door, to find out what the matter is. As a co-seller of the same goods, the women see each other as competitors and hence suspect each other’s’ motive. It is in her habit to either bad mouth or spread rumors.
Madam Cash: “Ah, money is missing? Who steal am, na. All these sales boys and girls no go put us inside trouble o. Them no know how you take suffer get money to save, yet them go dey steal am anyhow. If na my workers, I for don sack them tey tey”.
Madam Shine: “Who invited you to contribute to this talk now? You think I don’t know that you are happy that my money is missing right? I should sack my workers, why haven’t you sacked those your own who know nothing but to snatch peoples’ customers?
Madam Cash: “No fexiyoh, I say make I come sympathize with you as per neighbourni, I no know say you been don gather insult dey wait for me”.
Madam Shine: “Sympathize with who? You hear say person die? It is you that people will sympathise with. Go, enemy of progress!”
Madam Cash: “Yeyedey smell”, she hisses and leaves the shop.
Madam Shine hisses too,
Madam Shine: “Get behind me devil!”
Amina and Wasiu ransacks everywhere in the madam’s office thinking that she had misplaced the money but the money is nowhere to be found. Madam is furious and picks up her phone to dial the police station so that she can have them arrested. Amina and Wasiu fall on their knees.
Amina: “Madam, please have mercy, I didn’t see your money”.
Madam Shine: “Tell that to the Police when they come”.
Wasiu: “Madam, bikonu, my parents die since wey I be small pikin. Na my mother mama I get and na me dey send her money after you pay me every month. If she hear say I dey jail, she go sleep she no go wake up”.
Madam Shine: “So, it is because you have an aged grandmother to cater for that is why you stole my money, the police must hear this when they come. Wait a minute, where is Jummai?”
“Jummai!” Amina and Wasiu chorus simultaneously. During the course of the search for the money, they had forgotten that Jummai is yet to return from Iya Basira’s place where she went to eat breakfast.
Wasiu: “Jummai go chop breakfast for Iya Basira place”.
Madam Shine: “What kind of a breakfast is she eating from morning to this time? Even if she is buying everything the woman sells, she ought to be back by now. I hope she is not guilty of what I am thinking. Wasiu, go and call her and don’t even attempt to run away, I know where to find you”.
Wasiu: “I dey craze to run? I no fit even think am”. He runs all the way to Iya Basira’s shop. As soon as he gets to Iya Basira’s place, he meets Iya Basira and her husband having a misunderstanding.
Iya Basira: “Useless man, after all that I go through to feed you and our children, you still have the guts to steal for me to give to that useless girl that you always sneak out to go and meet in the night”.
Baba Basira: “Yes, I go out to other women and that is what makes me a man. My mates get more than one wife and Heaven still dey up. So, wetin you dey talk? Which dirty money you say I steal from you? No be me give you money to start up this business? Yeye woman”.
Iya Basira: “Shey you see as your life dey bend dey go? You no dey even shame, na your wife money you dey steal go give another woman when your mates dey pump their money enter their wives business”.
Baba Basira: “I no shame, na those small girls wey I dey follow dey teach me all the styles wey I dey come do you for night and the thing dey sweet you pass me wey even learn am, seff”.
At this everybody giggles including Wasiu who has forgotten what he came to do in the shop. Iya Basira and her husband have the notorious habit of washing their dirty linens in public and this amused all her customers; but annoyed a few. Wasiu recalls that his madam will be in the shop waiting for him and so he goes around Iya Basira is shop looking for Jummai.
Iya Basira turns to Wasiu who seems to be approaching them,
Iya Basira: “Omo! Wetin you dey fine?”
Wasiu stutters, he knows that if he enquires of Jummai, he might end bearing the brunt of her anger,
Wasiu: “Nothing o!” he turns to another direction using the eyes as a Prison flash light in search of a runaway criminal.
Jummai is nowhere to be found and Iya Basira’s children and workers tell him that they haven’t seen Jummai in the restaurant that morning. Wasiu walks back to the shop dejected, fearing what will become of him and Amina now that it seems Jummai has absconded.
Wasiu: “Madam, Jummai no dey Iya Basira Buka”.
Madam Shine wrinkles her forehead,
Madam Shine: “What do you mean by that? Where could she be?”
Wasiu: “I no know, madam”.
Madam Shine: “Okay, you all will be in Police net until you are ready to tell me where she is hiding.”
Amina feels too feeble to either defend or say a word. Like a withered tree she stands watching the drama between Madam Shine and Wasiu, who is on his knees begging. What is she to do? Why will Jummai do such a thing? Is she under a curse? Misfortunes have been hitting at her from all angles. She sighed, “you all will be in Police net” the words keeps reechoing.
Wasiu: “Ah!, madam abeg na”.
Madam Shine: “Where is that your fiancé I met in my shop? He is also a suspect. I want him here before the police goes to pick him up wherever he is”.
Amina’s heart flies to her mouth. She quickly picks her phone to dial Kamal’s number, his phone rings twice, he doesn’t pick and after the third dial, he switches off his phone. The taste in her mouth feels like Vinegar.
Question: Could Jummai be the guilty one? Why did she abscond? Where is Kamal, could he have run away too? Will Amina be made to pay for Kamal’s disappearance?”
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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