I consider myself to be a good boy who sometimes does bad things. I’m a student who has a lot of needs, most of which my parents – especially my father, considers not important. Please, how is a set of customized t-shirts not important? I wasn’t trying to get the t-shirts for no reason. It was my departmental week in a month and I was the director of socials, I had a responsibility to represent my department well. It was not the first time I was asking my father for money and he refused. He refused to sponsor my trip to South Africa, even though I told him the trip was a six unit course and failing to travel was failing the course. He told to fail and ended the call. When I wanted to run for president of my department association, he refused to sponsor me, saying I should ‘yahoo’ like my mates were doing. Of course he added that if I was caught, he would not bail me out of jail and I would cease to be his son.
I don’t consider my father to be wicked, he is just stingy. However, if the ‘danfo’ driver has learnt to drive without stopping, we the passengers must learn to jump out of a moving vehicle. My dad was stingy but I was smart.
“Good afternoon Chief.” I called my father one hot Sunday afternoon.
“My son, how are you?”
“I’m fine sir.” I said. “Thank you for the dry fish you sent the other day.”
“Your mother sent the dry fish.”
Of course I knew my mother sent the dry fish but I wanted to thank him for something. The last thing he did was pay my fees and give me my pocket money for the whole semester. I’d already exhausted the ‘thank you’ for that.
I looked at the dry fish where it was sitting on my cupboard. My mother was so nice. Even if everything she sent I ended up giving out.
“Papa, I need your help sir.” I said.
“Is there any problem my son?”
“Not really sir but you know we are about rounding up our three hundred level that means we are preparing for our final year projects already.”
“Our level adviser, who is also going to be my project supervisor is traveling to Kenya next week and he wants to get all our costume and other materials for our project performance.”
“So, in short, you need money.”
“It is not money I need, it is the project materials, unfortunately to get them, I need money.”
For a few seconds there was silence at the other end of the phone and I was already resigned to another big ‘no’.
“Alright, I will send the money.” He said and I could not believe it. “How much is it?”
I could not believe my ears. He’d agreed to send the money even before he heard how much it was. I was going to ask for fifty thousand naira but not anymore.
“Two hundred thousand naira sir.” I said.
“That will be enough?” He asked. “I hear final year projects cost a lot of money.”
“That will be okay sir.” I said then quickly added. “If the supervisor asks for more money, I will call you sir. You know with this fluctuating exchange rate, we never can tell.”
“Okay, my son.” He said. “Just study well, let me worry about money.”
I ended the call wondering what had just happened. Was my father drunk? Was he dying and he was trying to make me happy before he broke the bad news? Wait a minute, was he cheating on my mother? Well, it did not matter, I was getting what I wanted.
I was about to begin my celebration dance when my phone rang. It was Papa calling me back.
“I just wanted to ask if there was any sample that look like the cloth your teacher wants to buy for you.”
I frowned, what kind of question was that? “I don’t understand Papa.”
“Your mother said that money is too much and wants to see a sample of the cloth so we can make sure your lecturer isn’t duping you.”
“A sample? I don’t have a sample. They get the cloth only in Kenya.”
“Your mother said I should not send the money without seeing a sample. At least five yards.”
This was not good at all, where was I supposed to see a sample of a Kenyan cloth? Then it occurred to me; my father doesn’t know what this cloth looks like, neither does my mother. I could send newspaper sewn together and they wouldn’t know if it was Kenyan or not.
“I will talk to my lecturer and send you a sample.” I said.
I ended the call and called my girlfriend; we needed to go fabric shopping. All we had to do was find a very good material that would justify the money I was asking for.
Two days later, I’d bought and sent a very good material worth forty thousand to my home town. It was an investment. It was all the money I had but as soon as my money came in from him, my T-shirts were sorted. And I’d have change.
It took a while but finally my mother called to say they had seen the cloth. She admitted it was good but wondered why we wanted to buy it from Kenya. Of course, I sweet-talked her until she promised my father would send me the money as soon as possible.
Two days after the cloth got my town, I’d not heard anything from my father. I did not want to put a lot of pressure on him so I did not call. When it was four days later, I could not hold it anymore, I had to do something. I sent him a text.
ME: Good morning Chief. Please don’t forget me.
He replied almost immediately.
CHIEF: Sorry I kept you waiting. Check your Whatsapp.
Check my Whatsapp? It’s not possible to transfer money via Whatsapp. That was a good idea by the way, I made a mental note to think about it later.
I put on my data then opened my Whatsapp application. A few seconds later, his message entered. He’d sent an image. I opened the image and he’d sent a picture of him wearing the cloth I’d sent to him earlier.
ME: Looking good Chief.
CHIEF: It’s all thanks to you son.
ME: So when are you sending the money for the project materials sir?
CHIEF: Sorry, I will not be sending any money. I called your lecturer and he told me he was not traveling to Kenya. But thank you for the free cloth.
CHIEF: How does it feel to be on the receiving of a scam?