The people on my street always wonder how my father, who was once without a job for months, now has a fleet of cars and chains of business organizations to his name. A few months ago, he demolished the rough building we once lived in, and erected a magnificent one within a few weeks. When people talk of mysterious things, they talk more of things that are unreal but true, just like the story of how my family came into wealth.
It was deep into the night, we were all asleep, then came loud bangs on our rickety gate in a bid to gain access. No wonder on that particular night, the hoots from the owl that perch nightly on the tree outside my room, were different from the other nights.
This doesn’t signify a good omen, but I never knew my life and that of my family were about to change for the better. The consistent bang on the gate woke us all up from our sleep. I and my two junior brothers met our parents in the living room already, pacing about and praying, I guess. My father was dressed in his nightly caftan and my mother in her nightgown.
My father stopped pacing when he sighted us come into the living room, he came toward me and my brothers, explaining quickly and calmly as he can, ’’We may be under attack from thieves any moment from now, they have been trying to gain access into the house, I hope they don’t succeed. You all know that we don’t have any money in this house, so all we can do now is pray and stay strong regardless of what happens’’.
I don’t understand how to be strong in a time such as this. Yesterday I was just a girl of seventeen with many dreams. The thieves seeing that they couldn’t gain access through the gate, jumped over the fence, when they got to the door leading to our living room, they knocked vehemently, but none of us replied on the inside, as my father had already instructed that we all stay silent. We then heard a sonorous voice on the outside – which didn’t sound like that of a thief – who I guess was their leader, ‘’Sir, we are called the gentlemen of the night, and tonight it’s the turn of your household to host us. Kindly open the door, or we raze down this building with fire’’.
On hearing that, my father quickly went ahead to unlock the door, he couldn’t afford to watch the house that took him a decade to build destroyed by fire. As my father opened the door, three heavily built figures walked in with guns, clad in white suits and hats, and also masked in white, just like the gentlemen they described themselves as.
They came inside the house, walking slowly past my father into the centre of our living room. The man with the sonorous voice surveyed the room and stared at me first, then my mother and my two junior brothers, who were already shivering in their pajamas. One of the men was holding a suitcase, I guess that’s what they intend to use to take the little that we have.
Studying my father, the man with the sonorous voice sat down on the torn armchair my father usually sit on during evening news hour. ‘’Sir, as I said earlier on, we are the gentlemen of the night, and we have come to you in peace. Cooperate with us and we would be off this place in a jiffy’’. Closer to tears already, my trembling father interjected, ‘’Sir, I swear to God with my life, we don’t have any money in this house. I have been without a job for the past six months, my wife can testify to that’’
In a cool-mannered voice, the man with the sonorous voice said ‘’ Sir, why do you have to swear your life to a gracious God when your life is already in my hands? Next time I speak, don’t cut me off, that’s an order’’
‘’Yes sir, yes sir’’ my father responded. At that moment, I felt like weeping watching my father – my hero, reduced to that level. Even though we’re poor, we’re people of dignity.‘’ Good, as I was saying before you went hysterical, our mission is to take what is ours from the government, you may call it stealing if you like.
We call it taking because it is rightfully ours, they are the ones who stole from us, see it like we are collecting back our taxes that were never put to good use. So as not to act selfish, we find it worthy to also give back to the people by putting smiles on their faces, with ten percent of what was stolen, sorry, taken. Our coordinate team tracked your family as one of the families going through the hardest hardship on this street than anyone else. That’s why you are our host tonight’’.
Talking to one of the men holding the suitcase, he ordered ‘’ Hand over the suitcase to him’’. My father’s hand started trembling as he received the suitcase, I and my mother came closer to see what was inside and observed that the environment has become less tense.
‘’Open it’’, the man with the sonorous voice ordered. My father opened it, and in there were stacked clean mints of money, in Nigeria currency. My mouth opened in awe just like that of my father and mother. Smiling, the man with the sonorous voice said, ‘’ in there is a sum of three million naira, a token from us, the gentleme…’’
We heard a loud voice scream ’’Yeeeeh’’ with a heavy drop on the floor. It was my father, he fainted.