I wondered how I got here. Not that I am suffering from a hangover, But, I still can believe that I would be sitting in front of a betting shop, hoping that the numbers posted will favour me.
The anxiety running through my spine is making me tap my foot uncontrollably. The last time I was this anxious was when I was about to check the result of my final papers at the university, in front of the dean’s office.
I still wondered why I got to be the first person to be here this morning, waiting to cash out. I wondered how I became a bike man. I still marvel at the manner with which I lost my wife to a man living abroad. I still doubt that was the same man who was managing one of the branch offices of one of the biggest banks in the country. I still don’t believe that my children had to sleep without food last night.
I had to swallow my pride. I had searched in vain for a good job after I lost my last. My landlord in the kindness of his heart handed me his rackety bike. He was tired of the excuses I give when it was time I pay my rent. Moreover, I was tired of having to see my children live with hunger like bunkmates.
Yesterday’s business was dull and frustrating. The bike had developed a major fault, I had to use the money I earned from the previous day’s hustle to repair it. Agberos at the bus stop also took advantage of me. They really dealt with me. I paid for almost everything.
Despite, all the trouble yesterday, my children still slept without food. It bothers me what kind of father I have become. Worse still was the fact that I had to push my bike back home yesternight after it tyre was punctured. I had no money on me to repair it.
Yes for the first time yesterday, I place a bet. I have not done this before, I never wanted to. But I need a miracle gamble could offer. Akile had promised that I will be a millionaire today. That is what I am looking forward to this morning. At least if I have a million Naira, I would be able to start a business. I need this.
I met Akile yesterday. I picked him up on my way home. I was a little drunk, no wasted actually. He talked a lot and his breath was permeated with gin. The way he was swaying on the bike, I was afraid he would fall off the bike and caused an accident. My hands were still not perfect with the bike. He said he knew me. I doubted if I knew him.
“But you face looked familiar,” he said.
“Maybe, you might know me. Where exactly do you think we met?” I asked.
“I don’t know. But I remember seeing your face in my dreams” He said. The confidence with which he spoke frightens me. Moreover, it was night now. I was not scared, I was just worried.
“My Dreams are very potent” He continues “Whatever I see in my dreams come to pass. see, when I was in secondary school, I use to see exam papers a night before exams”
“If not because my dad died before I finished secondary school, I would have been a presenter on radio. I use to top my class back In secondary”
“Oh, now I remembered why your face is coming to me. I know that you are suffering a lot. God wants to use me for you. When I had that dream, I saw some Baba Ijebu numbers, and I saw your face. It is as if the numbers are revealed to me to liberate you. You will leave this okada job by tomorrow I promise you”
“Really” I know this might sound foolish, but I felt it will not kill me if I trust this man. I need liberation, I need to leave this bike job. The job is killing me already.
“Yes, all you have to do is just place a bet with the numbers, These are the numbers, 3, 67, 90, 43, and 8, sure numbers, I tell you.”
“Ok, How much do I need to place this bet?” I asked. I wanted to try this out. Something just has to work for me.
“ehmm, you know, I want you to win big, you know, like 2 million, you will place the bet with N5000”
“Ok, but I just have N2500 on me,” I said.
“Eh, you will place the bet with 2000 then, but that will get you only 1 million oh”
“Ok that good by me”
I was convinced by his confidence, even though he sounded and acted high, I felt he could be the answer to my prayers. I remembered what my pastor said last Sunday. He said that God can use anybody to bless a person, even a madman.
In the darkness of the night, Akile took me to betting shop. He collected the 2000 Naira. He placed the bet in my name, with the heavenly revealed numbers. He kept assuring me that I would be glad I met him tonight. He even told me stories of people whose lives were changed because of an encounter with him. With all he said and did, I felt hopeful. I knew that was the break I needed.
Akile and I parted ways, only after he collected the N500 felt with me. I said he needed it to make prayers for me.
I left Akile with a sense of gratitude. I was still miles from home when my tyre got punctured. I wanted to swear, but the thought that I will be counting millions by this time tomorrow go me going till I towed the bike down to my home by myself.
When I got home, my children had stayed up, hoping to get something to quench their hunger. Their eye widened like a hungry cat. I had nothing for them. But I assured them that we will be eating out by tomorrow.
The baba Ijebu operator had just posted the number. I stood from where I was seated and headed to check the number. I was not only disappointed, I immediate experienced a migraine when I noticed that I only got three numbers right. I had lost my money, I felt stupid. This is gambling, people hardly win.
“Shebi you told us that these numbers are sure? Akile” Some group of people were shouting outside.
“Ehh, is it not just two numbers that are missing,” Akile said. I did not notice his roman numeral three tribal marks that lined his face yesterday.
“Ok, give us the money you collected from us for pray then” The disgruntle boys demanded.
“I don’t have any money oh” he said.
Then it dawned on me that I have just been played. Akile had done this to everyone he met yesterday.
I still don’t know what to do, I still wonder what I am doing here
For more short stories click here