Emeka is staring at the man, the man he used to call father as he was talking and all the while his mind was thinking…
About how he and his mother survived. They slept under the bridge for most nights, some days they slept in an old abandoned car when some people had tried to rape his motheralmost succeded in one. He had broken the guy’s leg and took his mother and ran.
They begged for food on the streets, he never returned to school, never got his degree. The money he made from his car, was stolen the first night on the streets. Their cloths was stolen the first night they slept under the bridge.
His Mother cried almost everyday, but there was nothing they could do other than keep surviving.
After a month on the streets, she made friends with a woman who sold food, who allowed his mother work for her by selling food to people on the road.
Emeka hawked water, biscuit and bread, his commission was a mere thousand naira. But he was grateful.
One of those days he saw Diana ,she was passing with her friends. And they had wanted to buy water, he didn’t know they were the ones in the car when they screamed “Water! Water!!”. He had ran after the car and asked them
“How many, how much own you want?” he asked
“Jesus Emeka!!” it was Diana’s best friend who shrieked looking at him “Jesus!!’’
Emeka had turned, including Diana and the person driving,…
“Diana” he had choked
“What happened to you Emeka, why are you here..how?’’ her friend had asked, worried, “Diana, you told us that he relocated to the states but… Jesus Emeka” her friend says disbelieving
“Diana” he was looking at her, shame washed over her , then embarrassment, a little bit of pity, then in a flash, it was gone.
“Do you know him baby?” the man driving the car asks Diana as he looks Emeka up and down
“Yes, he used to be her boy-“’
“No baby I don’t” she says turning away cutting of her friend.
“Diana” Emeka chokes again, this time the pain to his chest made him suddenly weak, he staggers
“Careful’’ her friend says, turning away she digs her hand into her bag, bringing out a thousand naira note
“Look I don’t know what happened to you but I pray to God it works out for you… my God! here take this, let me just take a bottle of water, Emeka, please take care of yourself. Diana, wont you say anything, you both used to dat–“’
“Boo drive please, we can’t have stray people hanging by the window, Grace take your water and lets go. Baby drive na” she turns away placing her hand on the man’s thighs, he turns one final time looking at Emeka, then at Grace and then at Diana.
Grace grabs the bottle and then throws in an extra two thousand naira into his basket.. “Stay well Emeka” she says as the car pulls away
Emeka stares after the car, unable to move or breath, he slowly sinks to the ground, he didn’t know how long he stayed there, until he felt a hand on his shoulder,
“Come my son, come” Mercy says pulling him away
Yes, they had suffered… for two years they lived on the streets.. ate from the little they had and survived for another day.
On their third year, he had helped someone fix up the issues in his car that the mechanic didn’t know what to do, he liked cars, it always fascinated him.
Before long everyone brought their cars to him, everyone and within two years he had two garages he frequented that they always called him, it wasn’t much but he had so many cars he needed to fix that his name became known.
By the third year, he bought one of the garages, people came to him to train them, soon, the money started coming in.
From one he had five garages.. and within five years… he was a brand. He didn’t stop there, he began to deal with other car dealers, he fixes their car and then uses his money to put into the importing business.
And in ten years, not only was he number one in the country for anything cars, importation, he had found an oil block, drilled it… and that was where the big bucks came in, companies wanted to partner with him, especially those who wanted to go under, some he bought off their hands, owning them totally, and others he invested, owning shares. He was the Go To Guy when things got bad… and he did it well.
He changed his name from Emeka Odinaka Chikurdi to Uchendu , Odinaka Uchendu, taking his mother’s maiden name, kicking out his father’s.
The only people who knew him and called him Emeka was his mother, and the few people he hustled the streets with, a few became his bodies and some he helped along the way, gave them something to do. One was his closest friend, Tayo.. since they met that night.
A night Emeka had thought he was going to die. They were four of them, he had just gotten a few thousands from fixing a big man’s car, and already people knew about him and knew that he was making a little cash despite the hardship, so they had wanted to jump him, one for the money and another for trying to steal their streets from them… it was ridiculous to Emeka because he had no intention of doing so, he was just trying to survive, for his mother and for himself.
But they didn’t care, they rounded him up, he knew he could take them all one by one, but not together.
When they charged at him, he had successfully taken one down, getting to the second when they nibbed him form behind.. causing him to bleed, as he fell trying to nurse the pain, they attacked him, his kicking and trashing didn’t help.. when he saw the blade shine again despite his blood dripping from it, he knew his end had come but he didn’t want to die, he promised his mother he would take care of her, take her off this suffering and if he dies, who would take care of her, who would fend for her? His death would kill her because he was the only thing giving her a reason to fight to live everyday..
But he was weak and nothing more could be done, he screamed pushing them off but they came for him again.
Tayo had told him later on that it was his screams that alerted him, he was going back home from the mechanic workshop when he saw the fight and saw him under. Not knowing him, he had run to the rescue, he knew how hard the streets life was, he knew how innocents fell victim to the shadows in night, so he had gone taken the boys unawares, putting one down, and then the other and screamed “My friends are coming and they will get you all”
And within seconds they ran leaving him with the bloodied Emeka. He had helped him back home, helped to calm his mother down telling her it happens and since that day, they had been thick as thieves… Tayo was the only other person who knew about him.
Emeka sighs, drawing his attention to the man who was talking… he hadn’t changed much, other than a few white lines. His eyes were still cold, unfeeling. And he wondered how come he was able to recognize his father and he wasn’t able to recognize him.
He supposes that’s what hate does, that’s what anger does, it keeps your enemy, the one that hurts you in a part of you mind that you recognize him even in the dark.
He had vowed to make his father pay, and he would.
Who would have thought, that small Emeka was going to be someone his heartless father would come begging for help…
Karma was indeed a bitch and she was pissing on his father, he laughs
“I am sorry sir, did I say something funny?”
“No No, I was just amused”
“Why me, why come to us?’
“Well, you are the next best thing in town sir and as you can see before you, the files here shows that my business is going under and I really don’t want to lose it, so I know and have heard you help businesses like mine, some sell theirs totally to you while some ask for partnership, you get a share in the company and all”
“So you want to sell your company to me?”
He shakes his head “this is all I have to my name, I’ll rather you have shares and invest so that there might be a round for me in it sir, I intend to buy you out eventually so I don’t intend to sell’’
“How many percent shares are we talking about” Emeka doesn’t bother looking at the files, he didn’t need to
“I own 70 percent and you 30 sir”
“I take 90 and you 10” Emeka says “I will invest in your company, I would bring it from the deep that it is in, and I would make some changes.. “
“what kind of changes?“
“Oh, for instances, I don’t like the name, secondly… no one really is into what you do anymore,why don’t we change it into a boutique or a hair processing factory”’ Emeka chuckles inwardly
Mr Ambross coughs “A hair Factory? My company has been in existence for so long and…what we do is quite fine sir”
“Then you are not serious!”
‘’’But sir, you can’t just throw away some legacy to change it into a hair processing factory… hair factory?My God!’’
Emeka tries not to laugh “Okay, how about nails and dolls factory?“
Mr Ambross’s eyes grews big, this had got to be a joke right, it’s like saying he would buy off this Uchendu’a company and change it from what it is to something as silly as dog food factory. It was ludicrous
“No!!? okay then, I am not interested “ Emeka says getting up
Mr Ambross looks at him “Please sir, my company is hitting the rocks and I am told you will help, but asking that my company change from what has been its legacy to something as ridiculous as hair factory. That’s totally wiping away what I am, my brand, my name… my everything, I don’t want to sell and go into oblivion, I want a partnership. I –“
“Mr Ambross, quick question”
Yes sir? Right!
Emeka chuckles “why are you so concerned about your name, your legacy? Do you have a family you intend to leave your company for, your supposed legacy and all that?”
“No I don’t”
“You aren’t married?”
“Never been? Like never been married Mr Ambross” Emeka asks twisting a pen in his hands, his legs crossed
“NO’’ Mr Ambross says
Emeka looks at him “So why are you concerned about your name? I mean no wife. No child, who are you leaving it for? I give you a few years, you grow old and die, no one will remember you, everyone forgets the dead that means even this name and legacy you cling to, would be nothing. A random stranger would come and take it all, remove your name and replace it with his and not a trace of your name or legacy” He says
Just the same way you made the Ibekwe’s legacy yours Mr Ambross Chikurdi
“I still have a few long years attached to my name, and I can still marry and have children if I wanted sir”
“But you don’t, so why can’t I do what I want with a company I would practically be putting my money in, and own a considerable amount of share in it…after all, you are going under. Or why don’t I wait till you are nothing but dust, your company that is and I buy it for a thousand naira by then it would have no more value, even the legacy wouldn’t mean anything..”
Mr Amnbross opens his mouth and then closes it, this wasn’t how he expected the meeting to go. He started hearing about this Mr Uchendu a year ago, especially when one of his friends had told him how he saved his company for him, though he owned half of the man’s shares but he lets the man run it, and two other words of mouth and he made the decision to come here.
Mr Ambross’s two other companies in two states went under three years ago,the economy was bad, no money anywhere, only the few who had gone into the oil business, importation and others were making waves, such as this Unchendu’s company…” E.O.U Oil and Gas servicing/ Importation and Car Ventures Company”
They had told him the man could help, and he had brought his files and documentations, hoping to close the deal immediately, lose some of his share but atleast this Uchednu guy would be investing and he can get back into business, and in a few years he can buy him out, that was the plan, but if he allows him change major things like the name and then what they did, it didn’t belong to him anymore.
And of all things a hair factory, what was he, some beautician?
He looks at Emeka, frowning.
He expected to see an advanced man the way they spoke about the Mr Unchendu but who he sees as he came into the office was a young man, he wondered how he got his wealth, maybe he was a militant, his family was rich or he was one of those Yahoo boys who decided to use his money profitably. But in anycase, it wasn’t his business, as long as the young man could help him, however he got rich wasn’t his concern..but there was something familiar about him, but he didn’t know. Maybe they had met before in passing, or… he shake his head
“What is it Mr Ambross, is that a no?”
“No,I mean it’s not a no..it’s just that, have we met before, maybe in passing, conference, somewhere?’
“It depends, do you travel out of states and dine with the elites, do you make decisions with the big guns?Do you have affiliations with the oil sector, importations, car services?”
Mr Ambross frowns, that wasn’t an answer “No, not at all”
‘Then no we haven’t met. So, I have no more time to waste, do you accept my offer?’
“Can I think about it?”
“Take as much time as you need”
Emeka stands buttoning his suit.. “You have a week”
“But you just said as much time as I need, why the time frame and it’s my company not yours’’
“Yes, still doesn’t mean I like to be kept waiting, time is off essence and I hate to wait too long to close a deal. I am a busy man Ambross and I have a dozen people who wants to seat where you are seating, so again you have a week and yes it’s your company.. if you are so high and mighty, I don’t think you would have flown down here to see me. You need my help and if I must offer that help you would do well not to waste my time. You can leave” he says
Mr Ambross is staring at him,this boy that looked to be in his thirties, already made. A few years ago, no one would have been able to talk down at him,no, a few years ago he was yes, high and mighty, but here he was groveling at the feet of a boy so young could be a child.
He sighs, he had two choices; tell the boy to kiss his ass with his money and watch his company go under and loss all he had walked for all these years or, have another seat down with him, accept the offer, and plead for drastic changes not to be made.
“Very well Mr Uchendu, I would get back to you, have a good day” he says taking his leave
“Oh, it’s a good day for me Mr Ambross, really good” Emeka says to him as he leaves
“Close the door behind you Mr Ambross”, Mr Ambross pauses, turns and nods, then leaves.
Alone, he couldn’t hold his laughter, he laughs and laughs.
“Dear Lord, you are good.This calls for celebration’’ he dials Tayo’s number
“I have good news, I’ll meet you at our favourite spot“ he cuts the call and dials his secretary “Cancel all my meetings for the rest of the day Agnes ,I am taking the rest of the day off”
He leaves his office and tells his detail he would be driving himself, they should bring the car around.
While he waited for the car, he decided to call his mother, just to tell her it was a beautiful day and that it was a great day
“Is something wrong my son?”
“No mother, I am happy, so happy. How are you beautiful woman, good, okay?”
She laughs “yes fine, but tell me why you are happy?’
“Soon mother, I love you, see you later” he blows kisses into the phone and takes the key from the driver walking to the car, he brushes someone by mistake, he turns to apologize putting the phone in his pocket, he steadies her from falling
“Are you okay?’’ he says
“Yes sorry, I wasn’t looking” she says staring up at him
Once their eyes meets…his eyes grows big then adjusted almost immediately… hers didn’t
“Jesus Emeka!!’’ it came as a whisper, then shock “Emeka!!’’ she touches his arm, he removes it..
Without another word he turns, presses his car key, he strolls to his car, slips in, puts on his glasses,and then drives off in his red convertible with car plate in gold
“Jesus, that is Emeka, Emeka”she was pointing
“No ma’am, that is my boss?” someone walks up to her giving her her bag on the ground
“Your boss, I don’t understand‘’
“Yes Boss, he owns this place”
“This place, where I am standing?”’
“Yes!!” He frowns, was she crazy
“HEY CHINEKE! I AM FINISHED !’’ she puts her hand on her head “It’s a lie, it’s a lie” she grabs her bag and runs the other way.
TO BE CONT.