I was smiling happily. We were at the market place – myself and my mum. I was just fourteen and we were coming from my grand mum’s place – No, my grand dad was not dead then, so we were also coming from his place too, and with that you can just tell why there was a big smile on my face. You might not have gotten that right, grand mum and dad gave me a total of two fresh 1,000 notes. My joy was definitely complete! A fourteen year old boy with 2,000 Naira all to himself, what more can such a boy ask for? My joy knew no bounds, and to crown it all mum had bought a 50 Naira ice-cream for me. Perhaps her intention was to use that as a means of getting the new notes from me easily later on, but that was a later issue.

I trudged after her, my legs sweeping the dust of the market, as I sucked and licked every part of that dripping ice-cream, I sucked as if I had no crush in school who could suddenly walk past and boo me for such unethical style. I didn’t care, there was an excited horse inside me and I wasn’t ready to alter its fun.

We moved from garri seller, to grocery stores, to super markets, to one stop shop or the other, and mum bought from them all. She carried a heavy load on her head, and I just trudged carelessly along.

Suddenly, something caught my ear.

“Double your money! Double your money!!”

I looked leftwards instantly and saw a crowd, seized by the instant curiosity, I pulled my almost detached hands from mum, and she let go easily, believing that I was still following faithfully. I stopped and listened again to be sure of what I heard. I ran towards the crowd like I was magnetized.

“How can I double my money?” I asked one of the men speaking and drew the attention of the whole crowd.

“Just pay a token and pull a piece of paper from this tray, whatever is written on the paper is what you win!”

I frowned curiously, “how will that double my money?”

“Oh, boy! We’ve got everything here. Freezers, Bicycles, Play Station games,

Laptops et cetera. Just think of it, by paying a token, you get one of all these and it’s just as simple as that!” The man said jesticulating heavily with an even heavier grin that revealed his amusing broken tooth.

My eyes darted at the jolly items that were carefully arranged at the back of a car. They were all shouting at me to try it.

“Let me try!” a man yelled excitedly from the crowd.

Soon, the man paid and tried. The crowd became heated, the man won a flat screen TV! I watched as he was miraculously dashed the item. What would mum do if she saw me with a new bicycle? I wondered.

“Okay, I’ll try.” I walked bravely towards the entertainer and pulled out a thousand from my pocket. I offered the man, but before he collected it, I noticed that mum was suddenly in the crowd too, in fact she was right beside me, and she was audible until I saw her hands rise and descend on my face in one instance.

Beautiful young yellow birds like chicks suddenly began to fly over my head, and in the centre of their circular movements were two images, one wore a red gown, he had horns and a long red fork, he also had a very long tail, the other was a naked baby boy with white wings that flapped calmly like an angel. The angel was suspended in the air by a ring of cloud. A beautiful music was playing in the sweetest voices I’ve ever heard, when I tried to listen, it looked more like the ‘Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound’ hymn, although it was sung in the most mysterious voice I ever heard. Everyone in the market had suddenly gone into extinction and the whole place was a sweet drama with the world focusing on me as the main character.

I came back moments later, and withdrew my hands into my pocket right away. I picked the other note and offered both to mum straightaway without showing any form of reluctance. I didn’t understand then.

But now, I can very much tell why mum had stopped me from trying my luck that day. People have won just biro in such event and they have lost thousands on naira wining balloons and other inconsequential things like that, in the hope of winning big. The truth is that, nobody really wins anything substantial in such deceitful game!




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