In the Shadows (22) by Greg Emuze

Yay!! Greg is back with another episode! Who is excited? I definitely am.

By the way, he is sending a shout out to everyone who has been asking after him and his welfare. One of you very kind souls sent him an email. You guys are the best!

Enjoy!

***

“Get in the car! Driver’s seat!” Mike ordered as he shoved Zaneta with his pistol while remotely unlocking the same BMW she and Zach had come in. The brand was marred for life in her perception.

“Put both hands where I can see them” Mike said.

His phone began to ring as Zaneta sat behind the wheel. As Mike took out his phone to take the call, she placed a call of her own and quickly placed the phone face-down on her laps before putting both hands on the steering wheel.

“Matilda…. Yes, I have the girl….No jokes….Are your papers ready? ……. There’s no going back now. See you soon” He said and hung up.

*********************

Zack was at the foot of the stairs when his phone rang. He took one look, silenced it and put it back in his pocket. He moved swiftly to the door which Mike had left ajar. He took one quick peek. He didn’t have a clear shot, could not possibly have one without stepping into sight himself.

In one flick, he turned on the flood lights and turned off the lights in the hall and living room.

Mike responded immediately, dragging Zaneta out of the car and standing her up in front of him while shoving his pistol painfully in her side making her scream as her phone fell to the gravel.

The main door swung wide open.

“Don’t be silly, Mike” Zach shouted from inside the house. He’d kicked the door open.

“No, dawg! You do NOT be unfortunate” Mike shouted back.

“You are not smart enough to pull this off, man. Give it up!”

“No, man. There’s no going back. Don’t piss me off!”

“You pissed me off already by trying to drug me. But we can settle this quietly and that is why I haven’t called Malik or the General. It’s just me and you, man”

“Listen to yourself! You gave up a life with the next VP’s daughter to be an overpaid errand boy to some have-been. Get a life, dawg!” Mike said laughing.

“Maybe I don’t have one, Mike, but if you do this, you will lose yours”

“You were smart enough to know I drugged your drink, I see that now. I believe you are smart enough to see I have the advantage here. I have the girl” he said digging the pistol into Zaneta’s side again making her yell. Now she was crying.

“Mike, can we just cool?” Zach said, he could not take the screams and crying anymore. Mike had a point, he had the advantage.

“Come out and lay down your weapon then we can talk”

Zach thought about it a bit then said “Ok, I’m coming out”. He stepped out with his hands up, pistol hanging on his right thumb, safety on, facing downwards.

Mike moved his pistol to Zaneta’s temple. “No tricks, bro. I swear I’ll kill her” he said, firmly using Zaneta as a human shield.

“No tricks” Zach replied, letting his pistol drop to the lawn.

“Now kick it away” Mike ordered.

Zach’s kick sent the pistol spinning into the flower bed.

“Good. So this is how this is going to go down. I’m going to lock the lovely Zaneta here in the trunk to wait while you and I would go back inside to allow you administer some good old downer to yourself and sleep off this terrible episode of your miserable life

“Only because, I’m nice, dawg, I’m going to let you live and you claim I drugged you by the time your puppet masters hear about this.”

Zach made no response, but his eyes never left Mike and Zaneta.

Mike remotely unlocked the trunk of the 5 Series, it came up with a smooth mechanical purr.

“Ok, Princess, let’s get you settled in. If your boyfriend makes it snappy, I will be back for you soon and we will be on our way to freedom in no time, I promise” Mike said, pushing Zaneta towards the back of the vehicle with his gun now trained on Zack.

At the trunk, Zaneta made eye contact with Zach, he nodded at her almost imperceptibly, it was enough to renew her hope. She climbed into the trunk, and curled up, fighting to keep calm. She was glad she was not claustrophobic, but being locked in the trunk of a car by an armed mad-man, though quite spacious and clean, was still very unpleasant.

The trunk shut above her and darkness enveloped her. She cussed as she realised she had lost her phone in the commotion. Luckily, she had her Apple watch on.

*****************

“Ok, Zach. It’s just you and I now, like you wanted” he said walking towards Zach, pistol in both hands for a solid shot at Zach’s chest.

“Why are you doing this?” Zach asked, letting his hands fall slowly to his side, in a bid to douse the tension.

“Money! $5 million” he said stopping a few feet away from Zach.

Zach’s eyes widened.

Mike laughed, “A tidy little sum, yeah? While you were busy taking orders, I found someone on the inside who set this up for me. She works with Moloku, I knew her from back in the day. If you weren’t so -” he was saying when his blood suddenly burst forth, splashing all over Zach.

It took a whole second for Zach to compute what had just happened, quickly he hit the ground as Mike growled then turned in the direction from which he had been hit.

Zach dove swiftly for the flower bed when Mike took another shot to the chest; he fired two futile rounds into the night air as he crumbled to his knees, gagging on his own blood.

Zach knew the general direction of the sniper that had taken the shots, but was not about to go up against him. He stayed low amidst the flowers, found his pistol, took the safety off and cocked it.

This whole operation just went to hell” he thought “How the hell did a sniper come into this? How the hell did he find us?

He peered into the darkness beyond the premises. He saw nothing. Now he regretted turning on the flood lights. He wondered if he could wait it out, but then, what would happen at the end of the wait? Daylight didn’t guarantee the position of the sniper would be revealed, he was surely smarter than that. Another issue was Zaneta – she was locked in the trunk. He had to get her out.

“But first” he said, pulled out his phone and dialled Malik’s number making sure to reduce his screen brightness to the minimum and keeping the phone as close to the ground as possible.

“Yes?” Malik answered

“We have a sniper outside the perimeter. Mike is dead” he said, taking a look at Mike’s body now sprawled on the lawn.

“You are kidding, right?”

“I wish I was”

“Zach, I advise you get the hell out of there. Leave the girl. Go! Now!” Malik said and was gone.

Zach could not believe he had been left out to dry just like that.

He looked at Mike’s lifeless body and spotted the BMW’s key beside it. Quickly, he pulled up his media player, selected Bob Marley’s ‘Could You Be Loved’, pushed the music to the highest volume, threw the screen brightness to maximum and flung the phone into another flower bed by the fence. He heard two bullets rip into the flowers sending petals and leaves into the air.

Before things settled down, he dashed out of the flower bed, slid to the floor beside Mike, swooping up the car key then made quick rolls to the car. He heard 2 bullets hit the lawn and gravel along the path to the car. Panting, he leaned against the car.

He knew he had to get in and drive off somehow without getting shot. Beside him on the ground, he spotted Zaneta’s phone. It was broken and pretty much done in, definitely trampled upon in the earlier stand-off.

Zach wondered who his opponent was. He was pretty good, not perfect with rifle, but he was doing a good job controlling the terrain. And since he hadn’t fired until Zaneta was ‘safely’ in the trunk, Zach had come to the conclusion this was likely another AlphaTrag operative. The fact that he hadn’t shot at the car for the past minute that Zach had leaned against it lent Zach’s theory more credibility in his mind.

“He doesn’t want to hurt Zaneta, he won’t shoot the car…..I hope” Zach whispered to himself, grabbed the driver’s door handle, yanked the door open, slid to a spot beside the open door, reached in and started the car. He paused and listened. Nothing happened. With a little more hope than he’d begun with, he slid into the driver’s seat. Keeping his head down, he engaged the gear and gunned the engine. He could hear Zaneta scream and trash around in the trunk as the tyres squealed and shot gravel in every direction.

Zach kept the car on track – in the direction of the gates. In less than a minute he spotted the wooden country-side type gate the premises had. They had high tech perimeter fencing that did the real work. Zach was thankful it was not a solid metal gate as he blasted through it, yanked the steering right and tore up the dusty road to town.

Not too far up the road, Zach slammed the brakes as he came upon a red Accord coupe parked across the road.

“Fucking hell!” he swore as the BMW skid to a stop on the dirt road.

The strategy at play was more than Zach had expected. The particular spot where the Accord was parked was the only spot along the road where he could not have driven around it. One side of the road seemed to have given way in a recent flood.

A second inspection revealed the car was empty.

Could the keys be in?” he thought, then almost laughed at himself for the naive optimism he had just shown. “Time to get off the road” he said, grabbed his pistol and was about getting off when his window suddenly shattered and a rifle butt grazed his head.

He retaliated by kicking the door out sending the assailant a few feet backward. Seeing his advantage, he made to dash out of the car, pistol first but saw the man raise his rifle in preparation to fire, Zach pulled the door shut and tried to scramble away as a rain of bullets hit the side of car.

On his back, across both front seats, he fired 3 successive shots, hoping to hit the man or discourage him from coming closer, then opened the front passenger door rolled to the ground and fired 2 shots across the undercarriage. One struck the man in the leg making him howl in pain. In a flash, Zach was in front of the BMW trying to get in a kill shot, but the guy, even with an injured leg was fast and had ducked behind the trunk.

Zach leaned against the front of the BMW, its engine still running, now quite warm from the short journey. He looked at the Honda across the road and wondered why he hadn’t tried to ram it. Zaneta would have been fine in the trunk. He looked at his arm, it was bleeding. His face was on fire from the glass shards. He knew he had got the guy too – in the leg, but the guy still had the bigger gun and could cut him to pieces if he as much as made one wrong move.

Zach looked under the car once more, hoping to get in another leg shot when he realised the guy was not there. As he pushed away from the car, he felt it bounce before he heard the guy’s feet on the roof. Zach’s reaction was a fraction too slow, by the time he stood up to counter the guy’s move, he found himself staring into the nozzle of the guy’s rifle.

“Drop it!” the man said in a tone that told Zach to do just that.

For the second time in one awful night, Zach dropped his pistol, this time, on the hood of the BMW.

The tall man stepped down onto the hood and kicked the pistol on the road side.

“Turn around” he said.

Zach took a deep breath, looked the man in the eyes and said “Fuck you!”, grabbed the man’s legs and brought him smashing down into the windscreen of the car, then down to the front of the hood before punching his jaw.

The move had come as a surprise to the man who had lost his grip of the rifle when the air had been knocked out of him by his fall on the windscreen. The punch to his jaw, though solid, woke something up in him as he rose his feet and planted them squarely on Zach’s already bloodied cheek.

The pain was blinding making Zach stagger backwards a few steps. It felt like the fire on his face had just been refuelled. The shards in his cheek had been driven deeper. He was trying to regain his composure for the fight when he heard a gunshot.

“One more stupid move and I’ll blow your head off” the man said.

Zach could see the man with a pistol pointed at him. He suddenly realised he was tired of people pointing guns at him. This man had come for Zaneta, let him have her and be gone. No one else had to die. He surrendered.

The man limped forward and tossed a pair of handcuffs at Zach, “Put those on” he said.

Zach snapped on the cuffs and waited.

Satisfied, the man reached into the car, tuned it off and took the key, then went to the truck and opened it. Zaneta lunged at him with the wheel spanner she had picked up and held in anticipation.

The man saw the spanner coming and grabbed Zaneta’s arm in mid-air. “Hey, tiger! I’m on your side” he said but Zaneta was still trashing.

“Zaneta! Calm down, your Dad’s people sent him” Zaneta heard Zach say. She looked around shocked and relieved. She let the man help her out of the trunk as he threw the spanner back in.

Zach stepped towards the back of the car slowly, the man was still armed and he didn’t want to spook him. “Are you alright?” he asked Zaneta.

She looked at him and nodded then rushed to the side of the road and threw up, soiling her dress. Both men drew closer.

“We need to get her back to the house, she needs water” Zach said. The man threw him a funny look but accented.

“Let’s go” he said, pointing his pistol at Zach.

He marched Zach to the Accord, which Zach was not certain was Zaneta’s, and asked he got in the trunk.

“Really now? My hands are cuffed” Zach protested.

“Shut up and get in buddy” he snapped.

Zach obeyed as Zaneta approached. The man shut Zach in, then turned to Zaneta. “Let’s get you freshened up and you can be on your way. I’ll call to have a plane ready for you at the airport”

“Thank you, Sir. And what about him?” Zaneta asked nodding at the shut trunk of her Accord.

“My orders are to bring him in” he replied, helping her into the passenger seat of the Accord.

They drove in silence back to the mansion. Zaneta went straight to the guest room where she had been held and got in the shower while the man stood guard at the main door. He had asked her to hurry up, reinforcements may be on the way.

*********************

“How did you find me?” Zaneta asked as she walked towards Zach’s XC60

The man, who had introduced himself as Henry had given her keys to the SUV, instructing that she drive closely behind him till they got back to the city where they would part ways – she to the airport, he to someplace he could not disclose.

“It was easier than I expected” he said without emotion, “I came to the last known place you were sighted and waited for a chopper. Once a chopper landed, I found the Pilot and he sang like a parrot. His information led me here. I set up outside the grounds and waited for my opportunity. That one gave it to me” he said pointing at Mike’s body which he had moved to a wall and covered with some tarp.

“Thank you, Henry” Zaneta said, climbed into the SUV and switched it on. “Your leg” She added, looking at Henry’s blood soaked trousers just above the ankle.

“Flea bite” Henry said dismissively. It was a graze and he’d bound it up earlier while Zaneta prepared.

As Henry turned, his phone rang and he pulled it out. He spoke into it for a bit, turned around and handed it to Zaneta.

“He wants to speak with you”

Zaneta took the phone, “Hello” she said.

“Zaneta!” it was Tunji.

“Uncle Tunji” Zaneta said.

“I’m glad you are fine. I have sent a Jet for you. Do as Henry tells you and you will be here in no time” he said.

“How’s my dad?” she asked.

“In an interview. He will call you once he gets out and we will both be at the airport waiting for you”

“Ok”

“See you soon” Tunji said

“Wait, what happens to Zach?” she asked, her eyes going to the trunk of her Accord.

“I don’t know, dear. Really, I don’t. Just come back home” Tunji said and was gone.

Zaneta handed the phone back to Henry.

“Shall we?” he asked.

“Yes, thank you” she replied.

Henry walked, limping slightly to the Accord and drove off. Zaneta followed.

*******************

At a lonely spot on the highway, Henry pulled off to the shoulder and Zaneta followed suit.

Henry got off and walked towards her.

“So, you take the fork to the left, straight to a set of traffic lights, take a right and the airport will be on your left after a few kilometres. At the airport ask for the Blue Pacific hangar. Your crew is waiting”

“Left, right then look to my left”

“That’s right. But you’ll have to go turn around after the airport to get on the correct side of the freeway”

“Thank you, Henry. How about you?” she asked.

“I await my orders. Have a safe flight” he said and walked back to the car.

Zaneta indicated and got on her way.

She knew in her heart that Tunji had lied to her earlier.

********************************

Henry was listening to Tunji and Lanre on the phone. Both men were together on speaker phone doing a debrief of the operation.

“Basically, what I need to get out of him is the content of the disc he found in the Professor’s safe?”

“Yes. I know he’s got a copy. I need it” Tunji said.

Henry nodded in the comfortable coolness of the Accord’s leather interior. He had reclined his seat some, seatbelt on with the engine and AC running.

The hood of the blue XC60 was a few feet away by the time Henry noticed it, the headlamps were off, it was the parking lamps and colour that gave it away. Reflexively he dropped the phone and put his hands over his head just in time for the collision.

The noise was deafening.

The XC60 struck the Accord’s side at over 60km/hr completely smashing in the driver’s side. It had about 700lbs in weight over the Honda Accord Coupe 2014, it was a clear case of no-contest. The Honda was thrown further off the road and into the vegetation.

It took about half a minute for Zaneta to regain her composure. She had taken quite a while to make up her mind and plan her move, but once it was made up, she knew exactly what to do.

She had turned around and headed back to the point where she had left Henry in her car. She remembered Zach saying the Volvo SUV was built like a tank, she decided the vehicle was her best chance at a weapon that would deliver in a flash. She had decided on a collision.

Though she had braced for it, turning off her lamps on the final stretch, she had still felt the impact of the collision. As quickly as she could manage, she backed up the Volvo and parked it properly on the road shoulder, shielding the Honda from view of any passer-by on the road.

She got off, hurried to the Accord. Her head was pounding and her lips were cold and shivering but she knew it would pass. She went around to the passenger door and pulled at the handle. It was locked.

“Shit” she cussed.

She looked around for a rock, found one and hauled it with all her strength at the passenger door window. It came down in a rain of glass. She moved up to it and opened the door from the inside and got in.

Henry was moaning, barely conscious.

“I’m so sorry, Henry” she said, trying not to panic. The fact that he was alive was a relief to her. She had purposely kept her collision speed at 60km/hr so as not to kill the occupant of the car on impact. She’d once seen something like that in a movie.

She turned off the ignition and withdrew the key, exited, ran to the trunk and opened it.

Zach was still, curled up in a ball. She wasn’t sure he was breathing. He could have suffocated or been mortally injured in the crash. She noticed blood on his shirt and in the trunk.

“Zach!” she said, touching him tentatively.

No response of any sort.

“Zach!” she called again, this time shaking him vigorously.

He moaned, turned and blinked at the light from the trunk lamp.

“Zach! Please, get up, we have to go”

“Shit, Zaneta!” he exclaimed. “What happened?” he asked.

“Just get out, Ok?” she pled.

He crawled out of the trunk and lost his footing, crashing into her, she couldn’t support his weight and they both fell to the ground.

“Crap!” Zach moaned. “I need the keys for these” he said, showing her his cuffed wrists.

“Ok” Zaneta said, rose and went back into the car. She didn’t like having to search Henry who was still moaning, but she did and came up with what looked like the right key.

She hurried back to Zach and handed it to him where he sat leaning against the rear bumper of the Accord. He took the key and undid the cuffs, tossed them away and rose to his feet slowly.

“Let’s go” she said yet again.

“To where?” Zach asked.

“We need to get away from here at least” Zaneta said, arms flailing.

He could tell she was freaking out. “Get his phone” he said, as he walked towards the SUV.

“Not again” she said, about having to search Henry again.

It took her a while to find the phone. She would not have found it if it hadn’t rung from under the driver’s seat. She finally reached it, looked at the screen and recognised the caller; “Uncle Tunji” she muttered, then ran back to the XC60 and got in the driver’s seat. Zach was seated in the front passenger seat.

“Relax, Zaneta. I will let you know when to freak out” he said with a steady look at her. She nodded then handed him the phone. He pulled her close and kissed her. “Thank you” he said.

“Where to?” she asked, catching her breath as she moved the vehicle off.

“Keep heading straight. Let me make a quick phone call” Zach said.

He called Bizi.

“Hello” Bizi said, clearly woken from sleep by the call.

“Zach?”

“Thanks for the tip. The heat came and it came down hard. I’m a little beat up. I need to get off the grid”

“Where are you?”

“Still in PH”

“I’ll push you an address, but it will cost you”

“Send to this phone”

********************

“Has to be here” Zach said as they pulled up before a nice looking building with a black gate.

With Zaneta’s card they had withdrawn some cash at an ATM since Bizi had said he would need cash and he had none on him. His stuff was still at the mansion.

“Get to the airport, babe, I’ll be safe here for a while”

“Tell me again why you don’t want me to go with you” she protested. They had argued about going off the grid together. Zach was not having it.

“Your dad won’t stop coming for you, and you know it. Go be with him. When the heat cools, I will find you, I promise” he said.

“Ok. Keep this” she said, handing him her ATM card, “4765” she added.

“Why are you doing all this for me, Z?”

“I don’t know, Zach. I hope I’m not making a mistake”

************************

About half an hour later, Zaneta was welcomed by her private crew and led aboard a Jet.

“We were worried about you for a while, ma’am” the pilot said.

“I’m sorry, I lost my way and I don’t have a phone on me” she said.

“Glad to have you on board” the handsome young man said.

“Let my dad know we are on our way” she said as she settled into her seat.

A Little Food for Thought #2

letter to B

This randomness might persist for a while. Endure it.

***

I think it’s really silly and ridiculous when a person says “I care about you but I don’t really know how to show it.“

Errm. No. You do not care. Because if you cared, you would notice the little things that make me happy and you would do them for me easily.

I would not have to remind you to text occasionally and check up on me.

I would not have to beg you to sit through a 90 minute football match with me to watch my favourite team play.

I would not need to beg you for favours.

Life is simple really. Well, for the most part. But we just go on to make things complicated.

If you cared about me, you would surprise me on occasion.

You would be kind, thoughtful and polite.

You would be conscious of how your words and even your tone could affect me and you be would be cautious.

You would not even think twice before making certain sacrifices

If you care about me, or you claim to care. Show me.

I’m not a witch. Or wizard. I will not magically decipher it.

Tell me. That’s fine. But more importantly show me.

Because truth still remains that talk is cheap.

Good afternoon.

Privilege

A month ago, I was catching up with a very close friend and she was telling me about a guy she met that liked her and wanted to date her. I was interested in getting all the juicy details but she said there were none. She was taking her time to observe him so I let the matter rest. Few days after that, she called me and said she had told the guy about me and he was impressed by my blog and had sent me a friend request on facebook. Friend to my friend and potential in-law, I accepted. Then I did not hear anything about him again for a while.
Two nights ago, I got out of church and saw 7 missed calls on my phone. All from different people but there was a certain number I did not have stored. My battery was gone so I went home and plugged in my phone to charge. 9:39pm, my phone rang; the unfamiliar number that had called earlier. In my usual polite tone, I answered
“Hello, good evening”
I got a rather harsh reply
“Madam, you don’t know that when you come back and see a missed call from a strange number you should call back or at least text and say ‘hello stranger, I saw your missed call. Can you call back?’”
Ahan. Since when?
I laughed and replied
“I’m sorry. I was at church when you called. Please who is this?”
He gave his name and I was still not certain who it was. I know several people with that name. He eventually mentioned my friend and I made the connection. Oh! It’s you eh?
“Anyway, I need a favour from you.”
He had quite an attitude going on but I indulged him and asked what he needed.
“Do you have an email address?”
Shoo, in this 21st century? Who no go get email address na?
I politely said everyone had an email address and asked again what he needed.
“Can you read fast?”
Hian. What’s with all the questions na?
I replied in the affirmative and asked again, a little irritated this time, what it was he needed.
“I’ll send you something I wrote. I want you to help me read through it. It’s 200 pages and I’ll need it in the morning.”
Okay?
“Read through it like edit it? I’m sorry, but that won’t be possible.“
Edit 200 pages in one night after a long day and with all the other articles I had pending? Who am I? super woman?
“Please jor, just help me. You can do it in 8 hours.”
“I’m sorry, but I really can’t…”
The young man seemed to get upset and with even more attitude, he went off on a rant.
“You don’t want to help me ba? I promise you, that book will be on the internet tomorrow and you’ll have to buy it.”
I should have gotten angry at that point yeah? Well, no. I didn’t. I’m the good girl, the good friend and I was thinking, he probably married my friend and she forgot to mention it to me so for the sake of my relationship with her, I’ll endure this.
He ended his rants with a dramatic “goodnight!” and I assumed he would hang up. When I laughed and said “goodnight,” he went off again.
“But you’re wicked o! You can’t even beg me. I thought you would say ‘okay, sorry, just send it let me help you.’”
The look on my face was incredulous. Was he serious? I should beg you to give me work that would not be convenient for me especially as you weren’t going to pay me? He had to be joking! Still the calm girl, I laughed good naturedly and said “I’m really sorry but I can’t help you, that’s too much work for one night.” He hung up a few minutes after that.
I was tired so I went to bed a little while later with a mental note to ask my girl why she got married without telling me. I mean, they had to be married for him to feel entitled to that level of privilege. Even marriage did not count but it was the closest I could get.
The following morning, on my way to work, I received a text from the same guy
“You understand you are quite mean and that you denied a ‘friend’ (albeit on facebook) and a colleague a favor ba? And here I was thinking you’d call back and ask me to send it anyway. You are mean wallahi”
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to feel at that point. I wasn’t angry. I was just shocked that someone who did not even know me personally would think he had a right to that level of privilege. I thought it was all way too dramatic and I did not hesitate to ping my girl and ask her what was going on between them. Meanwhile, I sent him a message on whatsapp explaining again that if I had told him I’d get it done, I’d have been lying. He replied to say he had “bullied” another “friend” into doing it.
Fast forward to much later in the day. I received a message on whatsapp from the same clown saying “you have a great voice, young lady. Mesmerizing one.”
Now this was the point I decided to draw B’s attention to the matter. When I explained everything that happened, he was utterly shocked. A close friend was there too and their shared opinion was I needed to have a bit of mean in me. Lol. I agreed with them. But it was utterly ridiculous that someone that random would assume that somehow I owed him and he could make demands on me at any time and I had to meet them. Talk about privilege!
My girl eventually gave me the gist. They were just friends yet he kept policing her about. Telling her what to do, where to go, who to hang out with… he essentially felt she needed to obtain his permission to do anything or go anywhere. And eventually she had to tell him “you don’t own me.” Oooooh my blood was boiling! For real?! And they weren’t even dating! So what would happen if they got married accidentally? She would be his slave? Do his every bidding?
Here’s the reason I’m sharing this story. A lot of people go through life assuming that the world owes them something and so everyone should do their bidding. Well, if you belong to that class of people, you’re in for a rude shock. Nobody owes you anything! If you need a favour, ask for it nicely. If you get a negative response, move on with your life and don’t try to guilt trip the person into changing their minds.
I do a lot of editing for people but only at my convenience; especially as I’m not getting paid for it. I have a lecturer friend whose Ph.D. thesis I proof-read and even though he was under duress to submit it, he never put me under undue pressure or tried to guilt-trip into doing it outside my convenient time. He was my lecturer, he’s still my friend; that’s someone I have a relationship with and feel somewhat obligated to help.
Two very close friends of mine (both guys) shared some interesting experiences with me and with their permission I’m also sharing with you. The first guy had gone somewhere in his car and these ladies who were acquaintances requested that he drop them off somewhere. It was off his route and would take him a longer time to get home but being the nice guy, he obliged them. Ngwanu, madams get into the car and give directions but no, they preferred to take their precious time and dish out some attitude while they were at it. Ehn, was it not the same road? Would he not still get home? Why was he acting up? Was it because he had a car?
My friend did not hesitate to get in and drive off.
The other experience was pretty similar. The guy took his girlfriend to a store to make some purchases. They met some of her acquaintances there and these ladies totally ignored him. No interest in finding out his name or who he was and minutes later, they were asking for a ride in his car. Again, it was off his route, but because of his girlfriend, he obliged. When he asked for directions, their rude response was how could he not know the place? It was popular afterwards. And here’s what I thought. You did not know the guy whose car you were in, did not even know his name or bother to find out or engage him in a conversation yet you could ask to be dropped off and be rude to him at the same time? Oh boy. Some girls though. Same as my other friend, the guy dropped them off on the road and went off on his way.
Get this. Nobody owes you anything! Nobody! If you want something favors, respect… anything at all, work hard to earn it. And if you are going to beg for it, humble yourself. It’s just silly to assume that because you’re a pretty lady guys should fall over themselves to do your every whim. Same with drop-dead gorgeous well-built guys; I really do not care who you are or how much money is in your pocket or what your last name is even. Don’t expect every lady out there to fall over you and do your every bidding. It is important to respect yourself and the people that surround you. Don’t bully or condescend anyone for whatever reason. I’m nice, I might not lash out or go all out to be mean to you but there are people out there who would gladly do what I wouldn’t.
And for the people out there who let others walk on them like old rugs and treat them without respect, give yourself some dignity, please, it’s really important. Do not let anyone bully you or condescend for no reason. Have some self-respect. if you missed my post on chivalry, read it here. It’ll help you understand how to treat people decently.
Here’s to you becoming a better person.
Yours always,
Yougeecash.

The balancing act

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Sometime last year, I was in a park in Central London and that was where I took this picture. I was fascinated by the way the young man managed to balance all four items on a stick in his mouth and still dance around with it! It was quite an impressive sight! He was no magician. He was just a talented young man.
I’m sure you’re probably wondering what this has got to do with anything but please stay with me. As always, we’re going somewhere. I read John C. Maxwell’s the “360 degrees leader” and somewhere in that book, he talked about the man with many hats and how it is necessary that the hats are worn appropriately as occasion demands. He was talking about balance. A man could be the Executive director of a company but still have the roles of husband and father to play. So while at the office, he’d have to put on the hat of Executive Director, while with his wife, the hat of husband and with his children, the hat of father. Same person, different roles.
I love life, really I do. And that’s because there’s always something fun and challenging about it. Show me someone whose life has been a straight road void of complications and I’ll show you someone who really isn’t living. Because we have several roles to play in the lives of different people, there’s the need to try and find a balance. In a post I uploaded three weeks ago, I stated some of the most important things in life that we usually neglect. In case you missed it, click here. It’ll help you understand this more.
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If you really want to enjoy your life and at the same time live meaningfully, then you must learn the balancing act. Like the picture above you must learn to hold all things together. I don’t mean items, but I mean the various aspects of your life. It could include school, work, family, friends, protégées, religious responsibilities, relationships…
Now I’m not trying to create an illusion that you can live life perfectly, getting all things right. No, I’m merely saying that you can consciously try to do right and be more deliberate in your actions. Let’s start off with two interesting concepts; logic and emotions. A lot of people think that being logical and reasonable all the time is the way forward, while others think it’s really cold, heartless and unnecessarily rigid. Yet some others believe that being emotional is a sign of weakness while some others see it as merely being human. Here’s what I think. Life is not 100% logic and reason, neither is it 100% emotions and feelings. So you must learn to strike the balance. Of course you know it would be highly detrimental to you to rely on logic all the time. Logic isn’t everything. You won’t always have the answers and sometimes it is best to let your heart lead you. Then again, you do know that being 100% emotional is an express way to disaster. Your feelings will keep changing and so you can’t afford to rely on them all the time.
In that area, you must strike a balance. Try to be reasonable but also follow your heart. I can’t expressly tell you how to live your life and what choices to make, but I can tell you that when you learn to balance your feelings with reason, you’ll be on your way to happiness. Like I said, you will not get it right all of the time, but you’re guaranteed most of the time.
Balance is extremely important because without it, your life will be chaotic. If you’re doing one thing right yet doing every other thing horribly wrong, you cannot call that success. And this brings me to my next point. The many hats. Picture this. You’re this straight A student with no social life and therefore no social skills. You hardly remember to connect with friends and family because you’re either carrying out some research or doing some serious studying. You never remember details about other people and if it’s not academic then you know nothing about it… Hello geek, you have essentially ended your life even before it’s begun. There’s also the other extreme. You don’t go to classes, if it’s anything academic then you’re not interested, you party all the time, everything that’s wild and crazy is essentially you… Hey, I’d like to see you when you’re forty, let me know how your life turns out if you never took a moment to be responsible.
There are also the overly religious and super pious individuals that think that distancing themselves from anything that looks remotely interesting is the way forward. Well, to each his own. But my point is, I don’t see how anyone can find fulfilment living a one-sided life.
Then for the workaholics that think life is all about working hard and making all the money in the world so your family does not suffer. Okay o. Maybe they won’t suffer financially, but if you’re not there for them, they will suffer emotionally and trust me, that’s something that all the money in the world will not fix! Money isn’t everything. You MUST strike a balance. People have walked out of marriages and out on their families simply because they want to pursue a career or chase fame and the other finer things of the world. They have traded lifelong friendships for temporary partnerships and heart-ties for monetary gain. My apologies to you. Money cannot buy you everything. You need people and so the sooner you learn to strike a balance between work and the people in your life, the better.
As always, I’m not out to “get” anyone. Neither do I write as one who is perfect. I also do not write as one void of experience…. There was a time in my life when all the responsibilities I carried threatened to overwhelm me but I got through it by deliberate actions. You won’t be able to satisfy everybody! But you can do your best to ensure that you stay connected to those that are really important to you. The things I write are mostly common sense but in this crazy world of ours, we constantly need to be reminded of some of these things that we know but never act on.
It doesn’t take a magician to perform the balancing act. It takes a strong and determined person to hold it all together and do most things right. I know you can be that person and that’s why I’m writing this; because I have faith that you can begin to take steps in the right direction.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours Always,
Yougeecash

You have my word…

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A couple of days ago, my little sister pinged me and said “hey dear, I want to show you something secret but please it’s for your eyes only.” My default response was you have my word… And then she went on to share what it was with me, having been assured that it would never get out.
Deception is as old as man. We have all lied at some point. In fact a while ago, a friend said “lies make the world go round”. I guess it’s not love anymore. But before we begin to argue that statement out, let’s get back on track.
It’s easy to tell someone “trust me, I’ll do this” or “trust me, I’ll take care of it, it’s nothing.” But how often do we come through on our word? Like I said, it’s easy to say. If people around you cannot trust that you will do what you say you will do, then you’re really looking at a difficult life ahead of you.
I know sometimes, we say things and then circumstances out of our control make it difficult for us to do them, but that’s not really what I’m talking about today. My point today is telling someone you’ll do something when you really have no intentions of getting it done, or making promises you know you will never be able to keep. My point is letting yourself get sworn to secrecy and carelessly yapping it all away… As always, I’m not writing as one who is perfect but as one who has learned and is merely coming to share. A few months ago, I shared critical information about a friend with a third party. I did not think it would be an issue given that the third party was a trusted confidant but the truth was I broke the trust of someone really close to me and that very action of mine threatened to rupture the very foundations of our friendship. But thankfully, we were able to work past that occurrence and forge ahead. There you go, I’m not flawless.
But here’s a quick truth. Not everyone would be as lucky as I was to get off lightly. When you give someone your word, you should make a conscious effort to stick to it. Mistakes are common, yes but there are certain mistakes that are too costly and once made can never be corrected. So let’s start with the basics. How about you don’t say things you do not mean? Or how about you don’t make promises you cannot keep? “Ah, don’t worry, I’ll send you the document first thing tomorrow morning” and yet you haven’t even commenced work on it and you know for a certainty that it will not be ready tomorrow.
I keep telling people, it’s the little things that count. If you’re meeting up with someone, don’t tell “I’m almost there” when you haven’t even left your house. If you’re given an assignment and the deadline is upon you, when the client calls, don’t say “I’m almost done” when you’re not even halfway through. Don’t tell that person you owe money to come to your office tomorrow when you know you’ll be out of town. Don’t tell them to go check their account balance when you have no intentions of going to the bank. Don’t tell the customer “your dress is almost ready” when you haven’t even cut the material. Don’t tell that friend “I’ll make it up to you” when you don’t even plan on doing so. Don’t say “I’ll call you back in 5 minutes” when 5 hours later they’ll still be waiting for your call… It’s the little things that count. You think it’s nothing or you think they would not mind much but I tell you, you’re definitely making an impression. And as much as these things might seem little, they eventually becoming major issues. It’s why our senators will promise to make our lives better when they’re campaigning but end up collecting hardship allowance while making our lives harder once they’re in. It’s why they’ll promise us free education but vote to legalize child marriage. Like I said, little things that grow into bigger things… But let’s not digress too much.
Sometime last year, I met a lady I was supposed to be working with. We talked at length that first day and I told her I would give her a call at 10:00am the following day. I just said it! To me, it wasn’t some huge deal. The following day, I was pretty busy but as soon as it was almost 10:00am, I rushed to a payphone to call her. My call to her went through on the dot of 10:00 and here’s what she said to me. “I was waiting patiently by my phone to see if you would actually call by 10:00am like you said and you did. I’m really impressed and I know I can trust you!” We became really good friends afterwards; now, we’re more like sisters.
You know my point by now. As much as possible, never say things you do not mean especially if you’re not joking. You really do not know who is observing. Like I said, sometimes we’re unable to come through on our word as a result of circumstances we could not control but outside of that, you must try to build a solid reputation for yourself. People will mostly remember you for what you did and not what you said you would do. So here’s how it works. When you say you’re going to do one thing and you end up doing another, I’ll remember what you did and when next you say to me that you’ll do one thing, I’ll invariably expect you to do the other.
As much as is humanly possible, let your word be your bond. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’ll be somewhere, be there! And if for any reason you do otherwise, let the people you have disappointed know that disappointing them was not intentional. Apologize genuinely and make very serious efforts to not disappoint again. And also try as much as possible to make it up to them. Go out of your way if you have to. It’s one way to earn respect for yourself. Trust is pretty fragile. Once it’s broken, you mostly would have a hard time mending it and if you’re unlucky, it’ll be impossible to mend.
So here’s where I wrap it up. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you’re going to have amazing relationships with people are home, at work or in the society in general, you must be able to earn their trust and do all in your power to never break it. Like I said, it’s never really in the saying but mostly in the doing. Let your word be your bond… Have a lovely time ahead. I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours Always,
Yougeecash

Thorns in the roses

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I thought long and hard before deciding to write this and I hope you find it useful.
I’ve often heard people say that life is not a bed of roses. No offence to the person who came up with that quote, but they are wrong. Life could be a bed of roses; only a rose-bed with thorns. There’s no such thing as the perfect life, make no mistake about it, but you could have a beautiful life, one mixed with highs and lows, tears and laughter, joy and sorrow, happiness and pain. These things bring a balance to life and that beautiful balanced life is merely a bed of roses with some thorns in it and thorns in rose-beds are absolutely normal!
When dealing with people, it’s not always going to be all fun and interesting and everyone needs to know this. I attended a friend’s wedding last Saturday and I found myself discussing with some friends about how a lot of people pay so much attention to their weddings, but little of such to their marriage and so after a year, things become pretty crazy and both parties want out. Now that’s mostly because either one or both parties is not making the required efforts for the marriage to actually work. I’m not a marriage counsellor so I better stop digressing.
It’s always fun meeting new people, making new friends, getting to discover how much you and someone else could have in common… All that stuff is fun, in the beginning. I’ve heard popularly that opposites attract… Well, while this might not always be true, I do know of a few cases where it’s been proven. So you meet new people and it’s all fun at the beginning, especially if it’s the opposite sex. You keep up the friendship and maybe there’s an attraction and eventually you end up dating. Or you don’t end up dating but you’re still friends… I’m getting somewhere… The first few months of engaging in anything new are mostly exciting. Yes, mostly exciting. Lots of fun, ginger, adrenaline pumping and all of that and over time, things begin to go normal. You don’t talk as much or text as much… Everything just begins to seem boring. In the case of opposites that attract, the cute things that they did before that made you laugh don’t seem so cute anymore and you find yourself wishing that they were a little more like you and a little less than themselves… Does that sound familiar? Stay with me
In truth, as people become familiar with you and more comfortable around you, they relax and begin to become more and more like themselves. And then you probably begin to see things you never saw before, that’s reality hitting you. Little things now likely get on your nerves, you find yourself getting angry for the silliest of reasons and maybe your patience becomes really short. You probably begin to argue a lot and you don’t seem to care so much for keeping them around anymore and you’re probably thinking “I can’t do this anymore!”
Now get this, everyone can only be themselves and better! If they were just like you, there would be no balance to the world! You can’t keep wishing that your friends or partner were a little more like you because in truth, they will likely never be. You must first understand their person and accept them. The discovery is a gradual process and when that is on-going, you should then begin to ask yourself if having that person in your life is really worth it. Do they add to you more than they take from you? Oftentimes, we make the mistake of throwing the baby with the bath water. Oh they don’t call me as often as I’d want so I’ll just stop talking to them. And you forget that on those rare occasions when they actually do call, they give great advice and make every second of that conversation absolutely worth your time. Or looking at it from the other angle, they are more of a liability than they add value but you say you care about them so much and you still keep them around, frustrating yourself most of the time…
People are hardly ever easy to deal with and that’s the truth. Even the most unassuming and seemingly uncomplicated individuals have that part of them that is pretty annoying. So my point for today is this: no successful friendship or relationship ever just happens. You have to consciously work at it. Get to know that person and when the excitement dies, ask yourself if it’s really worth it having them around. If it is, then do all you can to keep them with you. I’ve had the most amazing friendships and relationships with the most unusual people. It seemed weird to some that I would be closely associated with some of the people in my inner circle but that’s just what it is and they have been more than a blessing in my life. I call them God’s best gifts to me. With them in it, my life actually does feel like a bed of roses. It looks beautiful and enviable to everyone on the outside, but it’s still got the thorns once in a while.
Life is essentially what you make of it. It could be a bed of roses and because it is real life and not a fairy tale, there’ll be thorns in it. Determine for yourself today to make your friendships and relationships work. But also bear in mind that it’s a two-way street. The other person has to be willing to make it work too. My inner circle has remained super close to me because we always made conscious efforts to keep our relationships even in the most difficult of situations! Don’t assume that things will magically work themselves out and you’ll have the best of friendships or relationships.
Remember this: NOTHING BEAUTIFUL OR TRULY VALUABLE EVER COMES EASY OR CHEAP. So determine to get past the thorns and enjoy the beauty of the roses!
Here’s to you and all the special people in your life, I hope you enjoy beautiful friendships and relationships like I mostly have. Cheers

It’s Cracked, Mend it!

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“A stitch in time saves nine.” That’s a pretty popular saying. Or better translated, “a stitch in time dey prevent further tear tear.” A lot of times, we tend to take a lot of things for granted. We have knowledge, but we don’t always function with it. Here’s a little wisdom nugget for the weekend. If it’s cracked, mend it. Don’t wait for it to break into several pieces.

How does this relate to anything?

In our regular dealings with people; friends, relations, colleagues, loved ones, spouses… we tend to overlook a lot of things and then over time, we start asking, “how did things get this bad?” Well I’ll tell you how! It got bad because when the cracks started showing up, you did nothing to mend them. A little hurt here and there. A little bit of rudeness, a little bit of disrespect, a little bit of pride, a little bit of selfishness, a little mean joke… I’m probably not making much sense but please, stay with me, I’m getting somewhere

I love my family, I love my friends, my siblings mean the world to me, I care about colleagues and random people that I meet. But here’s the truth, at one time or the other, all of these people are bound to hurt me and I’m also bound to hurt them. We’ll step on each others’ toes and get in each others’ ways and that’s definitely going to affect our relationship but the way we handle it determines whether our relationships would last or not.

It’s little things that become big things over time. When things go wrong as they sometimes will, deal with them. When the ones you love hurt you, talk to them about it, especially if they are unaware. Don’t seat there saying “oh, it’s nothing.” Because I assure you, it is something. Let them know you’re hurting and handle the situation. Life is too short to stay mad at someone forever. Don’t say “I’m just waiting, if she does it again, I’ll talk to her about it.” What you’re inadvertently doing is building a very huge bonfire. Where there are cracks in your relationships, mend them.

If you are the one who has hurt someone, apologize and try to make up for it. Like I said, it’s the little things that become big things and it’s only a matter of time. Siblings don’t wake up one morning and decide to be sworn enemies, couples don’t wake up one morning and decide to separate… little things built into bigger things that blew up in their faces.

Nothing ever works except you make it work, that’s just the truth. If there’s a crack in your relationship, mend it, before it breaks completely. I’m probably sounding discordant here but I desperately hope and pray that someone gets the message in this. Whatever may be going wrong, call that person and talk about it. Forgiveness is very vital in our daily living. Because no two people are exactly alike, no one will ever be just like you! They may not see things your way, they may not react the same way you do, but if you value your relationship with that person, you will put “we” over “me” and seal up the cracks in that relationship before it breaks into pieces.

Maybe someone is waiting on you to say I’m sorry but you don’t feel the sorry is necessary, offer it all the same! Or you’re waiting on the other party to apologize and they aren’t forthcoming, take the step instead. I know how many times I have apologized even when I wasn’t convinced that I was in the wrong and I know how that worked out perfectly afterwards.

Call someone and mend the cracks this weekend. You might not die tomorrow, but that relationship could! Have a fantastic weekend

Yours Always,

Yougeecash