Peter knew that he was going to end up with Kosi. He had known that since his senior year in secondary school. It was not love-at-first-sight, not for either of them, but it was love nonetheless. While they were busy preparing for their final exams, love snuck up on them, and there was nothing they could do to rid themselves of it. Peter graduated from secondary school but could not continue his education afterwards due to financial constraints caused by the early demise of his parents. By that time, however, Peter was already accustomed to providing for himself.
He found a job working at a car wash where he was earning barely enough to feed himself. Two years passed and things were going well with Kosi even though she had been admitted to study laboratory technology at a nearby university. However, Peter's finances did not improve. He had just started an apprenticeship program with a vehicle repairer when Kosi returned home in the middle of the week. Looking at her, he could sense there was something very wrong. He wiped his greasy hands on his dungarees and excused himself from the mechanic shop. He took her to a shed under the mango tree.
"What's wrong, baby?" he asked and sensing her hesitation, he added, "Talk to me, please."
She opened her mouth to speak but what came out was a wail of frustration. Peter could hardly bear to see her cry but he did his best to console her, then she finally managed to speak.
"I'm pregnant," she said, barely audible.
Peter had a thousand questions he wanted to ask but seeing her in that condition, he could not voice out any of those questions. He always felt they were careful to avoid a pregnancy.
"Are you certain about that?" he asked.
"Yes, I have confirmed it three times. I did not want to believe it either. Oh, Pee, what am I going to do?"
"You mean, what are we going to do? Truth is, I don't know, but it is going to be alright," he said.
Kosi returned to school the next day. Peter decided that the only thing he could do was to marry her since it was a thing of shame for a single lady to bear a child in their community. He called one of his uncles and told him his condition and what he felt he needed to do, and his uncle supported him. Uncle Alloy took it upon himself to arrange visits to Kosi's family, informing them of Peter's intention to marry their daughter. He met with a firm opposition mostly because Kosi was still in school, but when they learned of their daughter's pregnancy, even though they were angry at first, they had no choice but to cave to Uncle Alloy's proposal.
The marriage ceremony between Kosi and Peter was not conclusive, because Peter could not afford most of the requirements. But everyone was in support of making things as easy for the couple as possible, so they accepted to receive the bride price without the man meeting the prerequisites. Peter and Kosi became man and wife. She was able to complete her current session in school before she deferred her admission and returned home to prepare for her baby.
It was not long after his baby girl, Princess, was born that Peter made a decision that would change his life forever. It was lunchtime and Peter was under the mango tree eating bread and pushing it down with a bottle of coke when someone drove into the garage with a white SUV the size of a bus, which type he had never seen before. He quickly finished his lunch and headed back to the garage to see what such a vehicle could possibly need to be fixed. The closer he got, the more he realised that he had underestimated the size of that car. It was a GMC Yukon, and it looked like it had not been more than a day on the road.
As he reached the driver's side, the driver opened the door, and the air-conditioning oozing out of the car hit him in the face like a punch. He was so in awe of the car that he did not notice the driver. He looked through the windows, and it seemed to him that the room in the car was even more significant than the size outside would suggest. The driver tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. He turned and looked at the driver. He was not expecting someone so young to be driving such an obviously expensive vehicle. The driver could not have been more than a year older than himself.
"Good afternoon, sir," he greeted.
The man laughed. That was not the response he was expecting, so he took a better look at him to see why he was laughing only to realise that it was Bone, his classmate from secondary school. It was not possible: Bone was much slimmer than the person standing before him, and that was why they called him Bone back in school. But he had Bone's face. The last time he heard of Bone was the year they graduated from secondary school; he had gone to live with his uncle in Lagos.
"Bone?" he asked, still doubting his eyes.
Neither of them considered Peter's soiled dungarees, and they held each other in a hug. It turned out that Bone had been out of the country for a little more than one year. He had travelled to a few nations, but it was a Dubai that he spent the longest time. Peter knew instantly that he had to do whatever it was that Bones did to make so much money and he told Bone as much. He laughed and promised to help in any way he could. That day, Peter's boss, Neche had no choice but to let him have the rest of the day off: it was not every day that someone tipped him what he earned in one week for doing absolutely nothing like Bone did. From there, Bone drove Peter to the hotel where he was staying, and it was a party all day and all night. Bone was in town for about a month and for that period, Peter lived and partied like a Saudi King.
Bone was true to his word. Before he was ready to leave town, he helped Peter to get a passport and a visa to the United Arab Emirates. He helped him obtain a ticket and provided him with a stipend and contacts for when he arrived at Dubai. Those contacts would also introduce him to the job that would make him as wealthy as his friend. It never occurred to Peter to ask what the job entailed because he suspected that it was not going to be pleasant, and he was determined to see it through. Peter divided the money Bones had given him in half and gave to Kosi, his wife and left her with a promise to return in six months latest. It was difficult leaving his family, but he knew that the move would be good for him and his family in the long run.
It was Peter's first time flying in an aeroplane. As Bone dropped him off the Departure section of the International Airport, he was terrified of being in a vehicle that would be suspended in the air for the whole of his journey. The fact that the flight was going to take hours did not help him. When it was time for checking in, he walked like an animal to slaughter to the check-in point. The worst experience he had was when the plane took off. He could have sworn that he had fallen through the metal body and was let loose in the air. But he looked around and saw his fellow passengers all calm, so he tried to calm down.
Bone had organised everything so that it would be easy for Peter. By the time the Emirates flight touched down at Dubai International in Al Garhoud, Ogeh was already there to drive him to his new home. The only thing that Bone did not take care of was Peter's accommodation, but he guessed that was the reason for which he gave him the money he shared with his family. Ogeh took Peter to room 205; a place that already housed three people: Martin, Uzo and Chuks. He soon learned that the cost of the accommodation was AED 4000 which he later understood was equivalent to about NGN 400,000. All the cash he had with him was NGN 112,000 which he had exchanged for dollars in Nigeria before leaving. His new roommates did not waste time to demand his portion of the rent, so within a day of arriving Dubai, Peter was broke.
At the first crack of dawn the second day, Ogeh knocked on the door of the room and asked Peter to hurry up for his job. Until Peter drove with Ogeh into an abandoned warehouse to meet with a vicious-looking guy named Actor, he did not realise that job he had signed up for was dealing drugs. The assignment did not seem dangerous at first until he understood that men from the Criminal Investigations Department interfered with their business at a particular point. The very first day he worked, he was shot at, but he managed to escape. Martin, his roommate, it was that died. He survived by the skin of the teeth.
He had expected that he would organise his remaining roommates to go and claim Martin's body for burial. Where Peter came from, you could point out the grave of everyone that had ever died in a family because they never buried their people outside of their hometown. He was shocked when they informed him that any person who went to claim the body would be subject to criminal investigations and possibly arrested. He had no choice but to leave Martin's body in the hands of strangers, foreigners. He was terrified that what had befallen Martins was soon to be his case and was sick for three days. He had never seen days go by as slowly as those days.
When he felt better, he considered his options. With Martin dead, their rent had to be split three ways, and he had not saved enough to be able to make rent. Since he arrived Dubai, he had sustained two stun gun injuries when the law enforcement officers raided their drug retail operations, he had witnessed two of his colleagues go to jail. But returning to Nigeria empty-handed was not an option. The way he saw it, if he was careful, the only real risks he faced was going to jail for about four months on a possession with intent to distribute charge. He decided to weather the storm.
Peter counted it as luck that after he resumed his work, the raids stopped for almost two weeks, and he was able to save enough money to pay rent and send money home. He decided that he could not continue doing illegal business in the city, so he decided to look for some other means of livelihood. He went around his district looking for a venture that would require the amount of money he had, but he could not find any.
It was on one of these trips that he met Agbor. Agbor was running as fast as his legs could carry him. Peter had seen him and the people chasing him from far away, but he pretended that was not looking. It was always best to avoid the law when your business was illegal, he figured. Agbor ran towards Peter as if he had seen a Messiah.
"Nwanne, help, please," he said with desperation in his eyes.
In Peter's language, nwanne meant 'brother' or 'sister' or 'cousin'. Peter did not have time to think, but he was surprised by his own quick thinking.
"This street, house number 102, room 205. Unlock with 3421," he quickly told him, then as soon as Agbor passed him, he turned around and raised both hands in a stance of surrender, thereby hindering the passage of the two policemen coming after Agbor. They both had to run around him, and by the time they turned the corner, they could not see Agbor.
Peter's roommates were surprised to find a stranger open their door. They watched him run into their room but they dared not open the door and ask him to leave. If they did that, they may all be arrested just for being there and being black.
Minutes after his encounter with the police, Peter walked into his room to find his roommates and Agbor looking at each other with unease. He explained what had happened before they could talk to each other. Introductions were made, and it turned out that Agbor hailed from the town next to Peter's even though they had never met before that day on the street. Unlike Peter, Agbor knew from the start that his reason for travelling to Dubai was to deal on illegal narcotics.
"Nwanne, something must kill a man," he told his new friends. "But everything that is happening now tells me that I have to get out of this city or else, this work would be the death of me. *Instead of losing a whole cow, let me go home with the tail."
By this time, Peter could not send any more money back home through the regular channels because he had almost reach anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism limits and he did not want to raise any red flags. Agbor could not return to his apartment for fear that the authorities would be waiting for him. Peter had to go in his stead to retrieve some of his personal effects and travel documents.
When Agbor was ready to travel, Peter decided to take the risk of sending his money home through Agbor even though he had heard stories of people duping others. He gave Agbor the equivalent of six million Naira. His instincts told him that Agbor could be trusted. Besides, he knew where to find him in Nigeria if things went sideways. Peter's instincts would prove to have been very accurate based on the events that later took place.
Three months after Agbor left Dubai, Peter was arrested with eight other drug dealers. It was a sting operation. Sergeant Al Mansouri had contacted Peter's distro through a known associate of his requesting to buy ten kilos of cocaine. By that time, Peter had gained the trust of the Distro especially with Bone's recommendation, so he was one of the lieutenants that the Distro trusted to carry out the deal. As with most of these things, the men were all had their guns and were ready for a shoot out.In the eyes of the law, this made their crimes greater.
Authored by: @churchboy
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