Recently there was a competition to write a modern version of the biblical story of Joseph. Find my entry below... let me know what you think.
“A taxi from Jibowu to Ikoyi?” the woman interrupted, reading the address. “Please, that will be too expensive. If you are not in a hurry, just wait here. My son is coming, and we are going to Obalende. From there take a bus to waterside just tell the conductor you will drop on Lugard.”
Joe was immediately worried, remembering all the horror stories he had been told about Lagos. What if this woman wants to kidnap me, he thought to himself – but then he looked at her kind and wrinkled face, and decided that she looked safe enough, and moreover, she was a fellow easterner. In the ensuing conversation, she told him that her name ‘Mama Okey’, a widow, who lived with her son, Okechukwu, an accountant at an Indian owned company. As they made small talk, they discovered that they are from the neighboring towns of Ihiala and Okija. This immediately puts Joe at ease, and before long they are chatting away like close relatives.
“Ehen, Mama Okey, did you hear about Obodigwe’s kidnapping? Do you know it was a set up by his ex-wife?”
“Ezi okwu?” Mama Okey retorted. “You mean it?”
They were so engrossed in their conversation that they didn’t notice the smartly-dressed young man standing beside them.
“Mama,” the man called out.
It was Okey. Mother and son embraced warmly, and as her son apologized for his delayed arrival, Mama Okey introduced him to Joe, explaining how it was Joe’s first time in Lagos and that he needs help getting to his destination. Okey’s car was one of the flashy “jeeps” Joe had only seen in those Nollywood movies, and so he was excited to jump in.
They dropped him off in Obalende, and before long Joe found a bus going to his uncle’s area. He disembarked and walked down the street, scanning for numbers on buildings. Before long, he had arrived at No 12. Surely my uncle can’t be so rich!, he thought to himself. He had been told by his late father that Uncle Pius was a senator in Abuja, but he was shocked all the same.
As he stood outside the lavish house, Joe remembered how his uncle sent for him after his mother’s burial. Joe’s uncle and father were first cousins, and although they had drifted apart, they had been extremely close as children.
“What’s that your name again?” Uncle Pius had asked after the burial. “Ehen – Joseph… I hear you have finished your secondary school”.
Uncle Pius had then gone on to tell Joe how he had always offered to help his dearly departed cousin by helping with Joe’s training, but Joe’s mother had always refused, as Joe was her last child. Now that Joe’s parents had both passed on within the space of a year, Uncle Pius had wanted to help.
“Your mum always said you were the most brilliant of her children,” Uncle Pius had said. “How would you like to live with us in Lagos? Anyway, I’ve already spoken to your older siblings and they are okay with the idea… so since I’m going to Uyo for the Presidential Retreat, you will go straight on to Lagos. I have told my wife, and she is expecting you.”
After giving Joe his address, Uncle Pius walked away, but then turned back. With a mournful look, he said, “Your parents both meant a lot to me.”
“Yes? Can I help you?” The voice of the policeman standing outside the gate stirred Joe from his reverie.
“Yes?” the policeman repeated.
“Erm… I’m here to see ‘Madam’… Mrs Atuanya. My name is Joseph Atuanya.”
“Atuanya,” the policeman grunted, “I sabi everybody for dis family… how come I no know you? Anyway, wait, make I tell them inside.”
Fifteen minutes later, Joe was ushered into the kitchen by a middle aged lady, whom he was later discover was the cook, Dora. After a few minutes, Dora told him that Madam wanted to see him in the living room.
Joseph meekly followed Dora down a corridor. She left him in the living room, where he came face to face with his uncle’s wife, Angelica. She was so beautiful… so this was his uncle’s notorious American wife? Joe mused to himself. She was actually from the island of Barbados, but as far as everyone back home was concerned, ‘Nwunye Pius’, as they called her, was an American. Her skin shone like glass, she had a slender, hourglass figure, and she had very light skin and large light brown eyes. She smiled when she saw him.
“Wow! I had no idea you were such a big boy… Pius kept on describing you as his brother’s baby.”
As she spoke, Angelica looked him up and down, and pursed her lips as she smiled.
“Welcome my dear,” she went on, “Dora will show you to your room, I’m sure you’re exhausted… so have a bath and make yourself at home.”
It was the next day that Dora explained to Joe that, as a serving senator, his uncle was actually based in Abuja and only came to Lagos every other weekend. He also had a huge house in Abuja, but decided to leave his family in Lagos to continue to run the family businesses - a car sales shop and a thriving supermarket called TRUST Cash and Carry.
That weekend, Joe’s uncle was in Lagos and sent for him almost as soon as he arrived.
“Joe boy, welcome to Lagos. Well, like I told you back home, I have always wanted to help one of you, as your father really took care of me as a small boy during the war. I am sure that in the few days you’ve been here, you must have heard about my shop in Victoria Island. Well, I need you to work there. I know you must want to further your education but you can always do so part-time during the weekends, and stay in the shop during the week. My last manager was a fraudster, and since then, I’ve been looking for a close family member that can come in and run things there. My wife is always away, traveling to visit the children in the States. I trust you… you know blood is always thicker than water. Anyway, I’m exhausted; we will talk more at the shop tomorrow.”
In the next few weeks, Joe quickly learnt the ropes, and in fact exposed more pilfering than his uncle could ever have imagined was taking place at the store. In no time, Joe endeared himself to his uncle and his wife. Soon, the kind of profits that the supermarket had been recording before his uncle decided to go into politics, were being surpassed.
With time, Joe’s uncle kept his promise and got him admission into Lagos State University, as a part-time student of Accounting. Life was hectic, but Joe was happy! He loved working at the supermarket, and enjoyed his studies immensely. He only had one problem – his uncle’s wife, Angelica… whom the household secretly called ‘Spreespreespree’, a nickname given to her due to her affected western twang. Joe thought the woman was weird… she would stare and smile at him for no reason and then call him ‘Joey Baby’. Once, he could even have sworn she touched his bottom, but then he thought it must have been a mistake.
With the passage of time, Joe got very close to other members of the household - namely Dora the cook/cleaner, Ifiok and Danjuma the mobile policemen (‘Mopol’), Bennett the driver, and ‘Baba Pam’, who doubled as laundry man and gardener. Of all of them, he shared the closest bond with Dora. One evening, he and Dora sat outside the kitchen eating some suya that one of the Mopol had bought them.
As the gate opened, a sleek Honda drove into the premises. Madam was home. Joe got up to greet her and brief her on some developments at the store. As soon as he stood up, Dora grabbed him.
“Be careful,” Dora whispered.
Joe looked at her in confusion.
“Yes, Joe, you heard me - be careful,” she repeated. “I have seen how Madam looks at you. Why do you think all Oga’s staff are old-old men… be careful. You’re her in-law, but a bad woman is a bad woman.”
Joe shook his head and released himself from her grasp. What is Dora on about? he wondered.
He walked straight to Angelica’s room and knocked on the door. In that household, even her driver had free access to the house, so entering her room was nothing strange, but today was different.
As soon as Angelica told him to enter, she asked him to close the door.
“Joey boy… so how’s the supermarket doing? Anyway, I trust you….”
As she sat down, Joe noticed that her nightie was transparent. He did a double take and then looked away in embarrassment. She noticed the movement of his eyes and smiled.
“Come on, Joe,” she said softly, “come and sit by me, you know your uncle is always away, and I get so lonely at times.”
As she spoke, Angelica took Joe’s left hand and slipped it under her nightie, and in another swift movement started fiddling with his trousers.
“No!” Joseph drew away from her sharply, “Aunty, what are you doing?” he screamed.
“Aunty! Open this door or I will start shouting here, o! Aunty!!”
The next thing Joseph felt was a hot slap across his face.
“Will you shut the hell up!” Angelica exclaimed. “Wow, you’re more stupid than I thought, and I’m gonna make sure you pay for turning me down!”
With that, she opened the door and pushed him out. Joseph knew he was in a lot of trouble.
The next morning Joseph hurried to the shop without saying a word to anyone, and when he got back he was shocked to see one of his Uncle’s orderly’s by the gate. His Uncle was sitting outside in the gazebo and was clearly upset.
“JOSEPH! His Uncle screamed. Joseph ran to greet him.
“Daddy nno, how was your journey Sir..”
“Mopol” his uncle called and beckoned to the two Mopol , “teach this idiot a lesson and when your done with him take him down to cell, Next time he will think twice before messing with me”.
Joseph woke up the next morning with a severe headache, the last thing he remembered before he passed out was being beaten with a metal rod. He knew his Uncle’s wife had told her husband something but it wasn’t until he overheard two officers discussing outside the cell that he knew the details.
“ Do not mind the useless boy, e dey steal millions from Senators business , na the wife catch am red handed!”