I grudgingly paid the N250 Lekki-Ikoyi toll, cursing the damned traffic that made me avoid the cheaper toll-gate. That extra N100 wasn’t in my budget for the week. Looks like I might have to do without meat today. Sigh.
I’d have to find an excuse for going to lunch late as I wouldn’t want to explain to anyone why I was eating sans meat. ‘I’m on a diet’ wouldn’t work on anyone, especially not Chinenye, the aproko master. She’d pry until I finally confessed the truth. That’s one embarassment I’d rather save myself this week.
I prayed to God that the N4,000 fuel I bought would take me through the week. There would be no unnecessary driving around at all, not even if my absentee landlord’s puppy was choking from swallowing a too-large bone and needed an emergency trip to the vet. Sigh. I hope my poor heart would be able to ignore that.
I considered stopping at Shoprite to get ear muffs to sleep with for the next few days, but this new low-budget lifestyle wouldn’t permit such unplanned indulgences. I’d have to listen to the sound of his painful wailing and live with the guilt of his death for the rest of my life. Good thing their daughter comes to feed him during the day, at least I wouldn’t be the only one held responsible for his death.
I snapped out of my imaginative reverie at the sight of a man dramatically waving at me and pointing at my car. I sped up a little as I was practically the only one driving on the lonely street. Lagos and early morning robbery are like garri and groundnut, and I really couldn’t afford to get anything stolen from me at this point.
I was just driving into my office street when I saw somebody else, a shabbily-dressed woman this time pointing at my car and making hand gestures I couldn’t quite translate – but I assumed to be an appeal for help. I smiled sadly at her and did a sign that translated to ‘no shishi’, considering I was almost a beggar myself for the rest of the week. Every penny of the N15,000 I had borrowed from my sister was already accounted for.
The lady however persisted and kept on pointing towards my car. I had to listen to her this time, so I wound down to do just that.
‘Fire, fire for your motor,’ she was saying frantically.
I screamed and flew out of the car, not before turning off the engine, though. I looked at the car and what I saw could only be described as my worst nightmare. There was smoke emitting from underneath it.
How did I not notice it, I asked myself in bewilderment. Tears filled my eyes as a more important question passed my lips helplessly, ‘Dear Lord, where am I supposed to get the money to fix this?’
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