Tosin helped me up and i sat on the chair. He sat beside me and held my hand while his Mum and sister sat in the opposite direction. We all kept quiet waiting for his Dad to speak.
Then he started shedding tears.
To my surprise, everyone still kept quiet and nobody moved.
Flashback to 11years ago...
"Are you sure you counted the money well?" he asked after sizing up the briefcase containing millions of naira.
"Yes sir. I did" The feeble looking guy replied.
"Apart from the profit the company will make, I'm supposed to get up to 5million naira extra. I hope you know that" he asked.
Vincent was the Finance manager of Beejay & sons Constructions, a company that deals with bridges and roads constructions. For two years, Vincent has been embezzling some company funds. They had just succeeded in winning a construction contract from the government and had budgeted for an unnecessary extra 5million naira.
"Yes sir. I know" Dimeji replied with a cold smile. Judging him by his looks will be the greatest mistake any man could make. He's slim, tall and looks like he's going to fall anytime he walks. He was an intern student in the company and had been apportioned to be under the wings of Vincent.
The words were still in his mouth when Chief Bolaji suddenly walked into Vincent's office together with his bank manager, Mr Segun Oludare.
"What do you know?" Chief asked as he walked towards Vincent and drew out a chair from his office table.
He sat down on it as he couldn't stand for long.
Chief Bolaji, the CEO of Beejay & sons constructions is an average old man of 68years old. Recently, his bank manager has been suspecting of some fraudulent means being practised in his company. He sprang into action and started investigating silently without the knowledge of anyone in the company except of course, his bank manager.
Dimeji was in shock and started shivering while Vincent still kept his cool.
"Uhmmmmm. We were discussing the company's revenue before you walked in sir" he managed to reply even though, he's feeling hot underneath.
"Wow. That's fantastic!...." Chief smiled and turned to Segun. ".....right Mr Oludare?"
"Very right sir" he joined in the sarcasm.
"Well, I'm dying to know all about it....." Chief replied with his eyes scanning the whole room then he saw the briefcase. "By the way, is this the money meant for the contract we just got" He looked up at both Vincent and Dimeji. The duo exchanged glances and chorused "Yes sir!"
"Wonderful!" Chief tapped on the briefcase. "Well, it's a good thing my bank manager is here" He took the briefcase and handed it to Segun.
"You know what to do with this"
Segun nodded and collected the case.
Vincent's face was expressionless. How is he going to get his share before the money gets deposited and how will he prove his innocence when the board of trustees count the money and realize it is more than the estimated budget for the contract.
He started scratching his head vigorously.
"Well, your revenue discussion can continue after we leave, then the board will listen to your summary on Monday during the board meeting" Chief got up and Vincent coughed. He turned back
"Or do you have something to say Mr Vincent"
"Uhmmmm. No....not really sir"
"I thought as much" Chief replied, then he turned to Segun, "Let's leave them to continue their revenue discussion"
Chief and Segun walked out of the office.
"Damn!!!" Vincent stamped his feet and tapped his fingers sonorously.
Dimeji tiptoed to the door to check if Chief and Segun are completely out of reach, then he quietly closed the door and hurried back to Vincent.
Few minutes later, a sound of a car door closing was heard downstairs. They both peeped out of the window of the room they were, on the 2nd floor and discovered it's Chief and Segun leaving the building.
"Wait, does this mean they know about our plan?"
Vincent looked at him contemptuously.
"Are you a fool? Can't you see they've taken the money away or have you ever seen Mr Oludare coming to the office to collect money. We rather take it to him in the bank so what does this tell you dummy" He hissed and sat down on the edge of his office table with his head bowed.
"So what are we going to do now sir"
Vincent was quiet for few minutes and Dimeji understood he must be thinking of a way out so he didn't say a word, he sat down and await his decision. Dimeji's fear isn't related to the fact that he may lose his good standing in the company, of course a salary-earned staff will be more affected than a student there for his internship, his fear is more of him going to jail. He bowed his head in his hands.
"Contact Capo" Vincent finally said.
Dimeji looked up at him. He knew what that meant. Vincent was looking out of the window and Dimeji could see the desperation in his eyes.
"Capo? But......isn't that going to the extreme?"
Vincent suddenly looked at him
"Dimeji, I've sacrificed too much for this. I've gone to the extreme and back just to make this work. Now that I'm almost reaping my hard labor, you think i'd allow one riffraff like Chief or Mr Oludare to spoil it?......Never! They'd rather die than take that money from me"
The room was silent for few seconds. Then, Vincent checked his leather wristwatch.
"The banks are closed already and it's Friday. I'm sure Mr Oludare is taking that money to his house"
"He is the bank manager. Don't you think he can go to his office to drop it before heading home"
Vincent sighed and brought out his phone. He dialled a number and few seconds later, he was speaking with Capo.
"Hello Capo. I have a deal for you. Let's meet at the usual spot for the details" He ended the call and took his car keys.
"Am i going with you?" Dimeji asked.
"No, you can go home. I'd contact you about your share"
Dimeji smiled. What could be better than not risking yourself and still get paid.
Back to present
"We didn't have it in mind to kill your whole family but Segun recognised me and i couldn't risk going to jail. I really regret that night. I should have spared their lives but greed took the best of me. I gave my life to Christ few years later"
The whole house was silent, the only audible sound is my quiet sob. I was already soaked in tears. Tosin's Mum definitely knew about the whole story but my connection to it remained a shock to her.
"Gina! I know there's nothing i can say or do that can bring back your Family but please, just forgive me. I've thought of going to the police station to confess and go to jail for it but my wife's sentiments wouldn't allow me to"
He was already in tears.
"Dimeji died in a car accident 5years after the incident. Capo and his guys too were shot at sight during one of their raids. Even though all the witnesses to the crime are gone but somehow i've always had the feeling a day like this would come"
- God! What should i do? This is too much for me to bear. How on earth will i carry the same surname with the man who murdered my whole family -
Tosin's dad moved close to me and held my legs, he was soaked in tears. Tosin and Esther was obviously still in shock but they kept quiet and watched their Dad beg for my forgiveness. His wife too was in tears.
Suddenly i got up and the whole family raised up their head, waiting for my reaction.
"You must pay for the all the years of pain you made me go through" i said in tears. I could feel my heart breaking into pieces. I suffered because of you. Wasted many years just because of your greediness"
I was backing the whole family and then i turned and saw them on their knees.
"We know my dear....." Tosin's Mum started.
"Don't you ever open your mouth to call me 'dear'. Where were you when your husband was doing them all.....You know what, i can't stand this family. I need to get out of this cursed place" I picked my bag and put on my shoes. I headed straight to the door then i looked back.
"And about going to jail.....i'd definitely see to it that you pay dearly for your crimes"
I stomped out of the house and even though it was already getting late, i still embarked on the journey back to Asaba.
It was like it happened yesterday, the gunshots were still fresh in my memory. I was hurt! Deeply hurt!
A day never passed without me thinking about that night.
I got back to Asaba around 11pm. I entered my self-contained flat, dropped my bag on the floor and sat by it. I wept and wept.
Life took away my family, my innocence, my time, my pride and now it's going to take my love? How unfair could that be.
I was at the same spot till morning.
I didn't know when i slept off. The following day was a Sunday.
A knock on my door woke me back to life.
I checked my wristwatch and saw it was 1PM. I missed the Sunday service. I doubt if i'd have gone to church that morning even if i had woken up early judging from the way i felt.
I got up and walked to the door.
Maybe if i had asked who was at the door, i'd have known how to comport myself before opening.
I opened the door and met the 4 eyes of my Pastor and his wife.
"Aaaah! Mummy! Daddy!" i was shocked beyond words.
It was their first time coming to my house. I wondered how they got my address.
I was in a mess! A big mess!
And they obviously don't need anyone to tell them that.
"Can we come in?" Mummy asked with a smile.
"Of course Ma" i gave them space and they walked in.
I hurriedly went to take my bag and shoes. I haven't even been into the room since i got back from Lagos.
Daddy and Mummy sat and then Daddy started talking.
"We don't need to ask why you weren't in church today or..." he turned to his wife "do we still need to ask?"
"Sister Gina. Please have your seat"
I sat down in the opposite chair.
"We both couldn't sleep last night because of you and the reason why we didn't come earlier was because of the church service. We headed here immediately the benediction was said" Then she looked at her husband and he took it from there.
"The Holy Spirit gave us a message for you. He said you must be careful so you wouldn't trade your glorious future for a lifetime of unforgiveness and bitterness. We really didn't understand the message at first, then my wife suggested we prayed about it. We got into prayers and the Lord revealed certain things to me concerning the situation you are right now. You see, Sister Gina, the Devil is subtle and he knows how to prevent a Child of God from fulfilling his destiny when he's so close to it"
I was already soaked in tears.
Not because I'm still hurt about what happened but for the fact that God loved me to the extent of bringing a message for me through my Pastor.
Mummy got up and came to sit beside me. She hugged me and patted my back.
"You just have to forgive Gina. It's the only way you'd be free" She said.
"I know Mummy, but it's just so difficult" i said, in tears.
Then she released her grip on me.
My Pastor and his wife were with me the whole day. They shared a lot of scriptures with me, laughed with me and told me about their life experience that by the time they were taking their leave, i feel a whole lot better.
I freshened up, cooked and ate.
Then i remembered i haven't checked my phone since i left Lagos. There must have been lots of missed calls and messages most especially from Tosin.
I rampaged my bag and brought it out.
I was right. 20 missed calls from Tosin alone with 22 text messages and 25 whatsapp messages all apologising on behalf of his Dad and how he can't afford to lose me.
I read it all, switched off my phone and looked for my charger. I plugged it and switched on my TV to listen to some music.
Around 5pm, i heard a knock.
I went to the door and asked who it was.
"It's me Gina. Please open the door"
- Tosin? -
I opened the door and met him and his family outside my door ON THEIR KNEES.
I was embarrassed. I could see my neighbors peeping from their windows.
- Which kind wahala is this now -
"Please get up"
"We are not getting up till you forgive us. We are deeply sorry" His Mum said
"If only i could turn back the hands of time. I would have made a difference" His Dad said.
Well, after the session with my Pastor and his wife. I felt lighter and it can only be that I've forgiven him.
"Please get up. I've forgiven you. I said all i said yesterday because of the way i was feeling. I'm better now"
And that was when they got up one after the other. I made space for them and they came in.
Who would have thought this day would come. That i'd be sitting in the same room with the man i had sworn to send to jail no matter what.
It is true life is unpredictable.
I met a lot of people on my way up. People who were good to me and the ones that disappointed me. But nevertheless, they all came into my life for a reason.
Six months later, Tosin and i got married and i haven't been happier. He is everything i needed in a man.
I got back in contact with Funsho after many years and he linked me with Brother Moses. I hope you haven't forgotten them. These two people are few of the ones i can't forget in my life.
Funsho and i later arranged to meet in Jos, where I'm based with my husband and he told me Aunty Jemima and her husband lost my baby few years after i ran away from the house. I felt really bad for her forgetting the things she and her husband did to me.
Funsho is now married and based in Abuja.
Ooh! Did i just forget Tinu. Noo, i can never forget her.
She got married few years after Tosin and i wedded.
I really hope you will learn a thing or two about my story.
Thanks for reading.