Welcome to the fourth letter from Sisi to the abductors of her darling husband. You can catch up with the backstory behind this serialised tale unfolding one day at a time until a final wrap-up on Saturday, 20th November. Or you can just read on: I have, as usual, repeated all the letters from the past three days before ending up with today’s letter from the fictional Mrs. Ashiru Koton.

Day One

Dear Mr. Bomb,

Thank you for your letter. Don’t worry, I’m not mad so I won’t go to the police. The bribe I paid them 2 years ago for my stolen car which they never recovered is still vexing me. I will keep this to myself. Please take care of my darling husband. He likes to eat soft eko in the night, if you can manage it. By now he must have told you about his injections. I know you may not believe him but it’s true: if he doesn’t take his anti-clot injections every night he will just die on your hands – and me I am not going to pay any ransom for the dead body of my husband o. I’m telling you now. It is true that the injection is extremely expensive, and I know you may not have budgeted for it when you were planning this kidnapping, but you have to spend money to get money, not so?  So please let me know what the ransom is and I will pay it. My husband is a good and a faithful man. We don’t have any children and he is all I have. As you instructed, I will stroll down Tosin street at exactly 9 pm, wearing a yellow headtie, and I will give this letter to the first beggar boy that comes carrying a yellow bowl and calls me ‘Ashawo’. But please now, can you choose another password next time? I don’t see the point of being insulted for nothing’s sake.

Mrs. Ashiru Koton

***

Day Two

Dear Bayo de Bomb,

Sorry o, I wasn’t trying to make fun of your nickname. It is just my lack of experience of things like this. Please forgive me.

About this kidnap business, is this ‘5,000,000’ naira or ‘50,000’ naira I am reading? I think the zeros are a bit too much. Didn’t you know I am just a housewife? Or don’t you people do any research before kidnapping somebody? Anyway, me I also read newspapers as well. The Surulere businesswoman they kidnapped three weeks ago, is it not one hundred thousand naira that they paid? My husband is an ordinary civil servant and you are asking me for five million! I know that the Surulere people took three months to negotiate the ransom down, but look, I don’t have three months. And with the cost of anti-clot injections,  you yourself don’t. Look, the truth is that I am going to Dubai this very weekend and my ticket is non-refundable, so just tell me your ‘last price’. Me, I am offering to pay fifty thousand naira. Please. I don’t have the kind of money that you are asking. If I try and borrow more than five thousand naira my friends will laugh at me. Unless I tell them the truth… first you say I shouldn’t tell anybody, next you say I should bring five million. From where? Does your own housewife keep five million under her bed? Don’t forget that my husband is just an ordinary deputy director in the civil service. Yes he sees a little bribe here and there like everybody else, but it is not the type that you are thinking.

Or do you want me to talk to my husband’s senior brother? He can raise two or three hundred thousand easily. The problem is that my in-law is a senior director at the Ministry of Police Affairs. That is the problem. If I tell him he will just be thinking, Police! Police! That’s the problem. And you know how efficient the police can be when the investigations concerns them personally. – If they arrest anybody, there is no court. They just settle everything with ‘accidental discharge’. I am sending my savings passbook with this letter so that you can see the kind of money that my husband gives me every month. I am not complaining, mark you, because he pays most of my bills. Except that I don’t see the money in cash, that’s all. You know how you men are. Don’t say I’m teaching you your job o, but normally kidnappers will kidnap a child or a mistress or something, not the main man who can raise the money. Anyway, should I send you my trinkets? They are not real gold, but they are very, very pretty (and I know my husband will replace them when he comes back). If you agree, I can pack them up very well and give them to your beggar boy instead of your five million naira.

By the way, Mugu is not much better than Ashawo. I will answer Mugu this time, but for next time, let the password be Sisi Eko. This is not a good home-training you are giving your apprentices, I have to tell you: teaching them to be calling respectable women like me bad names like that.

Mrs. Ashiru Koton.

***

Day Three

Dear Bayo de Bomb,

Hah! Look, I’m begging you on my knees, don’t castrate my husband! Are there not enough women in this world? Bayo de Great, what is really vexing you now? If it is that password of a thing, okay, call me Ashawo! If it is rudeness, ask my husband, this is how Ashiru Kotun talks… and if it is that other thing… who will you believe, a weed-smoking beggar boy or a respectable housewife like me? I was wearing a big yellow headtie with buba ati iro. If he saw a ganja-vision that looks like me, wearing green beret and black raincoat and trying to follow him, is that my fault? Am I James Bond to be changing dress in the middle of the road? That your beggar boy must be mad. I don’t know why you should send a ganja-smoker to do a serious job like this! Don’t be surprised if he finally runs away with the ransom!

Anyway, thank you for reducing your ransom to the final, final price of one million naira… And thank you for returning my passbook. Let us leave my Dubai spending money for now. I have told you the ticket is non-refundable. Even my hotel has been paid before I even got my visa. So am I supposed to fly to Dubai and sit in the hotel for 1 week without eating? Will you do that to your own wife? How can you think of that sort of punishment? How much is that chicken change spending money anyway, for you to put your eyes inside it? Despite that you are a kidnapper and I am a respectable housewife, with the things I did to get that spending money, we might still meet in hell! And then you want me to give you the money? Bayo de Great Bomber, let’s leave that chicken-change money for now, please.

But don’t worry. I have seen how to solve this problem. I don’t know how much money my husband has in the bank (you know how secretive you men can be!) but I am sending the cheque I tore from his cheque book, which arrived by post this morning. I have written my name and your one million naira final, final ransom. Let him just sign it and write the letter of authority. I am his wife and even though the money is heavy, the bank manager knows me. (If you go there yourself, you know there are plenty of cameras and police and whatnot.) I am sure I can cash the cheque for you, but you have to ask him if he has enough money there or not. Because I don’t like to go on foolish errands.

And please o, don’t useless my husband for me!

Mrs. Ashiru Koton.

***

Day 4

Dear Marwa de Machete,

Thank you for taking over this matter. And thank you very much for the new password. ‘Sisi Eko’ is a very nice nickname. I don’t know why that your Bomber boy was making so much wahala about giving me a decent password.

I don’t have any extra anti-clot injections at home. My husband buys them at one pharmacy in Ikeja. Ask him, I am just a housewife. I am sorry you had to run out of your house at 2 o’clock this morning to look for injections, but I warned that your doubting-thomas assistant. I am happy my darling husband is well now.

Thank you for the cheque. Why should I be angry that you changed the money to ten million naira. Afterall,you were discussing face-to-face with my husband who owns the money, and I am  just an ordinary housewife. The only problem was the alterations all over the cheque. If you want to alter a cheque why couldn’t you look for the same black biro that I used to write it? How much is black biro? The bank manager became suspicious at the blue and black ink we used to write the cheque and refused to pay it, especially when you didn’t allow my husband to answer his mobile phone when they tried to reconfirm the cheque. In fact, when he saw the spot of blood on the cheque he insisted on calling the police. I told him it was red ink, but he said it looked like blood, so I started to scream (I know how to cry very well) and he agreed that it was just a domestic husband and wife matter. Now, just because of your greed everybody’s eyes are red in that bank. There is no point in sending you another cheque because I dare not go back there. That is the problem with you greedy people: by now you should have one million naira in your pocket, and I should have my husband at home, helping me to pack for my visit to Dubai, but no: you saw a cheque that is not even blank and you started adding zeros again. First you sent beggars to call me ‘prostitute’ on the street, now you’ve made everybody in the bank think I am a thief!

You better take the fifty thousand naira I have at home and let’s settle this matter once and for all, before my husband’s injections sends you into debt. (Don’t worry, I will still add my trinkets. As for me I always keep my promises.) You don’t have to make millions and millions on your first job, you know. Don’t say I am insulting you with proverbs but you know that when the trader waits too long for the best price, her tomatoes can become rotten. Since we are talking about food, did you remember what I said about soft eko? It’s not that he cannot eat pounded yam at night, it’s just that I know how many piles operations he has had.

Anyway, I am sending you back the uselessed cheque with all the ‘Refer to Drawer stamps’ – before you start thinking that I have cashed your money and added it to my Dubai money (I know how you men think!). By the way, between you and me, whose blood was that on the cheque? Don’t say I am doubting you o, but please send me a picture of my darling husband. And ask him for me if true-true he had ten million naira in that account? I didn’t know that overdraft can reach like that…

Mrs. Ashiru (Sisi Eko) Koton.

***

And there you have it, dear reader: four letters down, two to go. Have I shown my hand? Do you think you have figured out how this is all going to pan out? Even if you have a copy of my Diaries of a Dead African (- the prize for the best guess as to this story’s endgame) you can do it just for the fun – and to drive up our comment count to 100 – which is the magic number that commits me to run another new story from next Monday.

I believe we have about 27 comments so far… looks like I am on course for an easy week…

Related Posts:
Part 1: published on 15th November, 2010.
Part 2: published on 16th November, 2010.
Part 3: published on 17th November, 2010.
Part 5: published on 19th November, 2010.
Part 6: published on 20th November, 2010.

22 Replies to “The Ransom Letters (Part 4 of 6)”

  1. Stanley says:

    sisi eko would travel on her trip, leaving the husband with his abductors.

    Reply
  2. Crispin says:

    Loving it. Even if it’s rather close to home. I like Mrs. Ashiru Koton’s pluck and I’m rooting for her.
    Here are bits from contemporary reality: In a hospital in Aba, two kids were kidnapped recently. Their mother, a cleaner at the hospital, rallied colleagues and neighbours and N10,000 was raised and paid to the kidnappers before the kids were set free. People have been ‘kidnapped’ in Aba and asked to bail themselves on the spot with as little as ‘recharge card’ (no joke, this) – these do not make the papers. In Akwa Ibom, the in joke is that what is happening in Abia is ‘retail kidnapping’ since the asking price for anyone kidnapped in Akwa Ibom starts at N25M while people are ‘kidnapped’ for as little as N1,500 in Abia.
    Back to the story: Someone is going to get rich. Someone is going to get effed. And someone might just get dead.

    (note: comment moved from Part 3)

    Reply
  3. Chuma says:

    @Stanley: ‘sisi eko would travel on her trip, leaving the husband with his abductors.’

    That’s a pretty big bill for ‘anti-clot’ injections she will be leaving them with. No wonder you are predicting curtains for Mr. Koton. We’ll see if this scenario is still feasible by tomorrow.

    @Crispin: Frankly I have had to ignore the newspapers in writing this. If you reflect our ‘reality’ in a story like this people are bound to complain that the plot is getting farcical and unrealistic. Did you hear the one about the family that policed themselves left right and centre… so their housemaid got kidnapped and they still paid a ransom?

    Re you prediction: clever eh? That’s like predicting: it will rain… and it won’t! We shall see…

    Reply
  4. KT says:

    I have NO idea where this is going, but I like the ride so far. The woman is nice for sure, but not gullible. And then the husband. What exactly is his problem? I’m on the woman’s side so far no matter what happens in the end.

    Let me read on.

    Reply
  5. Jeannie Brandt-Lietzau says:

    As to the humor…..certainly there is nothing funny about a kidnapping. Anywhere ! So many horrible things are happening in today’s world…everywhere. The saving grace, for me, has always been in reading stories, none so savored as those that are written with a sense of humor. To me, those individuals who are able to function the best are those with an ability to laugh, especially those who are able to laugh at themselves
    .
    Which brings me right to the scene at the bank…..and all of the “red eyes” at that bank, a priceless scene….
    O.K. so now Mrs.Koton is wondering about how much money her husband has……
    At this point, if I were Mrs. Koton herself….I don’t know what the heck I would do…..;>)
    I think someone mentioned this before….the kidnappers will be paying her to take him back…..
    maybe ?

    Reply
  6. Chuma says:

    @ KT ‘Let me read on’
    That’s safe, KT, very safe.

    @Jeannie: yes, humour – even the graveyard kind – helps to keep this old orb in balance.

    ‘the kidnappers will be paying her to take him back’… over and beyond just letting him walk in exasperation? That suggests a delicate extortion racket, she seems quite the resourceful dame, but this will take some pulling off. Will wait with bated breath…

    Reply
  7. tom hulley says:

    maybe she already chopped up the husband and the letters are her alibi?

    Reply
  8. Ifeh Agbonmire says:

    Impressive work. Like your, ‘Diaries of a Dead African’ you know how to take topical issues in Nigeria, and let your imagination wrap a witty, humour-full story out of it. In DoaDA it was 419, now in TRL you have kidnapping.

    I am not good in guessing, but I want you to start another series after this because I like you pieces. And I like to read a lot of you. So I am praying the comments pile up to 100. Right from that story about the Maitama big boys club handbook (memory is hazy) to your poetry about your shirt. Lol!

    I feel that the woman was working with the police all along and they were telling her what to write in the stories so they can triangulate on the position of the husband. Like if they had allowed the bank manager to talk to the man they can trace the call. So the kidnappers would be caught and we would have a happy ending.

    Reply
  9. Chuma says:

    @Tom Hulley: Hmmm. A mister-koton-stew is very Stephen King, isn’t it? To make this endgame credible I suppose Sisi Eko has one more day to get a witness (she has so far kept it to herself) and stop mailing her alibi via the ganja-smoking beggar-boys. – That or to start keeping carbon-copies… we shall see, tomorrow…

    @Ifeh Agbonmire: Yes, Diaries of a Dead African dealt with the 419 scene, although it also touched on journalists-in-politics. Pleased I can count you a fan. Re Maitama boys, you are of course talking about the 10 commandments of Nigerian Politics. You can always refresh your memory.

    Re endgame, you think the story will swing towards the Police Procedural? That’s a new one, we shall see.

    Reply
  10. Chika says:

    I wonder if the husband has a hand in this kidnapping? why ashawo as password? hmm

    (Comment moved from Part 1)

    Reply
  11. Chuma says:

    @Chika, ‘why ashawo as password’? Perhaps some misogyny? And perhaps because Tosin street might be that kind of street…

    You are certainly bringing a Freudian dimension into this conversation…

    but onto the business of the day, you and Ivor appear in agreement here, but is there a credible enough motivation for the husband to set up his own abduction?

    Reply
  12. Abdul Adan says:

    Now, one cheque is gone. I don’t think another cheque will work. Looks to me she cares about her husband. The husband could already be dead.

    Reply
  13. Sandra C-Williams says:

    Hi Chuma. Her husband is not the sort of person a real kidnapper would want to put up with. He’s far too much trouble! Getting them up at 2am because he is sick? Letters to and fro? A wife calling the shots? It sounds as if he wants out of the marriage but did not sort his business before leaving. He possibly hopes his wife will eventually get a refund from her airline ticket as that is all she really has. The man is a crook but she clearly loves him so cannot see that.

    I’m loving the daily unfolding tale. Please, please, please start another next week. I’m sure others read but have not commented – yet.

    Reply
  14. Chuma says:

    @Adan: ‘Cares about hubby?’ Can hardly quarrel with that, although she probably could have saved the poor man some grief by curbing her irascible language… ‘dead hubby’?… we’ll see.

    @Sandra: ‘I’m loving the daily unfolding tale. Please, please, please start another next week. I’m sure others read but have not commented – yet.’ …

    I am probably in for it already, we only need 44 comments in two days! 😉

    Reply
  15. Ginger says:

    I am so enjoying these letter. You are very entertaining…..This particular letter had me laughing out loud. running over to Part 5

    Reply

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