At last, we arrive at the Grand Finale.

I have certainly enjoyed this experience – and I detect a masochistic streak as I watch the comments tally, which currently stands at 84, to see if it will hit 100 by Sunday and commit me to doing another story next week.

If you have just joined us, at least you have been spared the suspense: we started off this week with the first letter from Mrs. Ashiru Koton to her husband’s kidnappers. She has written a letter every day since Monday and today I am blogging her last letter, which wraps up my short story. There was a game involved of course: I teased my readers with the challenge of sussing out my endgame. I don’t think that anyone quite caught me out, but I will now go back and see who came closest and who gets my book! Not looking forward to that, since there are many contenders!

As usual, I am setting out all the letters so you can read the entire story in one blog. So what do you think of the endgame? Strained or Sufficient onto the plot?  Thanks for sticking around for the ride.

If you want to get future blogs in your inbox, do sign up your email address in the right sidebar.

***

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 Koton 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 Four

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.

***

Day Five

Dear Marwa de Machete,

This picture of my husband… I have been crying since morning… why did you naked him like that? Even his mouth is double the size it used to be. Look, I’m very sorry if I vexed you. – I don’t even know what I could have written to offend you like this, but whatever it is, I’m very, very sorry. Kai! …But why? What sort of people will flog an innocent man just because of his wife’s sharp tongue? And what did I even write in the letter that could have vexed you like this?

Well, at least his john-thomas is still there.

You people are still behaving like armed robbers. The newspaper said that the Surulere Businesswoman used to play ludo with her kidnappers and eat akara from the same plate with them. And for three months nobody harassed her ‘as woman concerned’! Please now, behave like kidnappers. After all you are not working in Guantanamo. My darling husband is your tomatoes. You must not let him rotten.

To come to the business side of the matter, I think that hundred thousand is not impossible for me to raise. This is what you should have said since, instead of all those million millions you have been calling. Now my flight is leaving tomorrow night and with how my husband is looking now, I don’t even have the mind to go again, even if you release him now. God will punish all of you, true! If you see how I suffered for this Dubai journey! Anyway, my own watches are kpanjo, but my husband has one expensive Rolex that I can use to borrow the remaining fifty thousand. He doesn’t normally wear it except he is going for owambe parties and I have been looking everywhere for it.

Ask him if he put it in his safe. – When we were building our house in the good old days, my husband used to see serious bribes; and EFCC was working well that time, always sniffing around like police dogs. So he use to hide his bribes at his senior brother’s house, which is actually their family house. We still have a room there that we lock up, with a safe inside the wardrobe. It is free from armed robbers because of the mobile policemen permanently stationed at his brother’s gate. Now that his bribe income has dried up, my darling husband doesn’t go there much. Just ask him where he kept his Rolex. If it is in his safe, I will need his combination. Tell him I am not selling his Rolex o! (I know how he will hate that sort of thing!) I am just going to borrow money on it until he comes out.

Hai! Did you flog my husband with wire or koboko? Please send me pictures of his back view. I have to do a vigil for his healing tomorrow and anoint the pictures and burn incense in front of them. I am sending his buba and sokoto, in case you have torn all his clothes in your vex.

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. Ashiru (Sisi Eko) Koton.

***

Day Six

Dear Marwa de Mugu,

These new pictures of Mr. Ashiru… I have been laughing since morning! I can see some new wounds on the poor man. I’m not surprised that you had to flog the combination number out of him: our marriage could have survived the money he was hiding from me, but not his will.

I saw the Rolex there but I can see that your ransom has gone up again. Well I won’t even pay you fifty thousand naira anymore. I have to be honest with you: as soon as I got your first letter, I went to my Igbo pharmacist friend in Ikeja and used the money to fix a CCTV over her counter. There are five or six pharmacies in Lagos that sell my husband’s injection, but when I read your bomber boy’s first letter very well I realised that even if his two parents resembled human beings, at least one of his grandparents must have been a gorilla. True true, when the time came, guess which all-night pharmacy (in the whole of Lagos State) your whole gang went to at 2 o’clock in the morning? You must be the one they were calling Desalu, not so? That ugly scar on your face must be the reason for your Marwa de Machete nickname. Sorry o. I know this is your first kidnapping. It’s not easy, abi? You should go back to armed robbery. Even monkeys can make money from armed robbery, but kidnapping is not a good job for mugus.

Anyway, back to our business (I can’t tell you how much I found in the safe because my maths is bad… and it is a private divorce settlement anyway, none of your business). So because he confessed that he had plenty of money in the safe, your final, final, final ransom is now fifty million naira, eh? I’ve told you: it is greed that’s going to kill you. That’s why you were calling me ‘mugu’ and ‘ashawo’, not so? From Mr. Ashiru’s pictures I don’t know if you’ve found your ashawo yet, but me I am definitely nobody’s mugu. Tell my ex-husband that as well. Tell him that after twenty-five years of marriage I still can’t believe he was planning to leave our house to a mistress and a bastard son. Okay, so he was the one that ate the bribes and it was his name on the C of O… but who queued up for weeks and weeks at GB Ollivant, buying cement and iron rods? Who fought labourers and greedy tipper-drivers for the three years it took us to build… kai, but love can make a woman stupid! For twenty years I hid the medical report that confirmed that it was his K-legged sperms that made us childless – just because I didn’t want my husband to feel like a half-man. – And then he goes out and finds a mistress that presents him with somebody’s bastard to call his son! Anyway, give him this medical report, it is my going-away present to him. From now on, money will be my own husband, and if my love for him tries to comes back I will bring out these your pictures again and remember how I married a worm by mistake. I also have some going-away presents for you people (because I’m a woman of my word). You can’t sell them for much, so just give these trinkets to the women in your lives. Because I really, really pity them. And, sorry: I told my pharmacist friend that she could double the price of the injection, that you will be desperate, but – that Igbo woman – she went and tripled it.

Release Mr. Ashiru immediately, Mister Mugu. You have beaten him enough, thank you, and I really want him to see the hole in his safe. I am not afraid of his brother’s connections with INTERPOL. It isn’t their business to bring back runaway wives, and Mr. Ashiru can’t tell anyone I have stolen his millions, because EFCC will first of all ask him where he got them from in the first place. I am leaving for the airport now, so my housemaid will be tying my yellow headtie this night. But if Mr. Ashiru doesn’t answer me from his house when I phone from London, his brother will get your Nollywood Pharmacy video and copies of your letters. (And you know how efficient the Police can be, when they really want to work.)

By the way, thank you for your silly letters. I didn’t really want to live as a second-class person in a Moslem country, and I don’t know how I could have applied for asylum during my stopover in London without all those threats to machete me and serve my pieces to your dogs.

Idiot.

Sisi Eko.


Thanks for sticking around for the ride, friends. Off to get some sleep now. Will figure out who gets a Diary of a Dead African later and post a message here.

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Related Posts:
Part 1: published on 15th November, 2010.
Part 2: published on 16th November, 2010.
Part 3: published on 17th November,2010.
Part 4: published on 18th November, 2010.
Part 5: published on 19th November, 2010

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

  1. KT says:

    Ah, nice work. Nice ending. I knew she wasn’t planning to stick around for very long. One could tell from the gentle teasing in the tone of her letters.

    But the suspense was worth the end result.

    Reply
  2. Uche says:

    Smart move, Sisi Eko! I am beside myself with laughter and mirth and good feeling…nice piece!

    Reply
  3. Yemi Soneye says:

    Oh, man! Isn’t she lovely? I wish all household women, being treated as trash, could be grim like her. Mrs. Ashiru Kotun is the most real character I’ve read lately. If you know what she did to my week Sir, you wouldn’t mind starting another story next week 100 comments or not. Thank God and you for this week Sir!

    Reply
  4. ifeh Agbonmire says:

    Nice twist. Sisi is so smart. I hope we hit 100 comments because I really enjoyed this.

    Reply
  5. Sandra C-Williams says:

    Hats off to the writer. A great end after her twenty years of secrecy just to protect her man’s pride. I can’t wait until the sequel or next weeks’ story – whichever comes first.

    Reply
  6. Jeannie Brandt-Lietzau says:

    Ah….I KNEW there had to be a mistress….also had the feeling that the wife did not really want her husband back all that much.
    She made so many references to how dear the coming trip was to her and how she had saved to be able to go on the trip….also her jewelry was obviously “costume jewelry”….when she found what was in the safe, her husband was probably better off with the kidnappers at that point in time.
    Thank you Chuma. This was fun ! I enjoy your writing.

    A heads up to all who enjoyed this….Chuma’s books are just as well written. His book of poems is never far from my bedside table….

    Reply
  7. Onugha Emmanuel. says:

    You reminded me of the book “SO LONG A LETTER”. This is a very good story, it started well and ended well. I need to read your book of poems and others.

    Reply
  8. Angie Phillip says:

    Hi Jeannie – Chuma’s poems are never far from my side either – they’re wonderful.

    I enjoyed reading The Ransom Letters – great idea to publish it as a serial day by day – even though I’ve just read them all at once because I only just got to it. It works well both ways.

    Well, Chuma – I bet by now the comments have nearly reached the necessary 100….. hope so…

    Reply
  9. Angie Phillip says:

    An afterthought – now how did you manage to get under that woman’s skin? Had to smile quite a bit while reading those letters.

    Reply
  10. Angie Phillip says:

    What a great story – I went digging about all over the place to find part 6 which was the only part not on the same page as the early parts.

    Reply
  11. Jeannie Brandt-Lietzau says:

    Angie,
    Are you “stuffing” the post list ?? ;>) I warned Chuma I might do so myself…just to have another story.
    Mrs. Koton had a very amuzing voice. One could almost picture her based on her letters. Not sure why but I got a very clear image of this character.

    Reply
  12. Awele says:

    Chukwuma!
    Where does this kind of stuff come from????
    “When I read your bomber boy’s first letter very well I realized that even if his two parents resembled human beings, at least one of his grandparents must have been a gorilla.”
    Anyhow, when I read the first story very, very well, I realized that even if both parents are resting very, very well, their story-telling skills has migrated successfully to continue to keep them alive.
    Jisike and if I choke from laughter we all know who to blame …
    Awele

    Reply
  13. mohamed gibril sesay says:

    great great writing about the twists and turns of greed, loyalty, scheming and betrayal, save for d unneccessary swipe at moslems at d end

    Reply
  14. Sandra C-Williams says:

    Nearly there folks. A few more comments needed today.

    I too considered the question earlier; How DID you get under Sisi’s skin? That was genius! I for one am your newest fan sir 🙂

    Reply
  15. Chuma says:

    Many thanks for the kind comments, KT, Uche, Yemi, Stanley, Uche, Ifeh, Sandra, Ivor, Jeannie, Emmanuel, Angie, Awele and Mohamed.

    @Mohamed, about that ‘anti-Moslem’ swipe, I fully sympathise. That’s of course the problem with Sisi Eko. I am Igbo myself but she still managed to fire off that gratuitous anti-Igbo innuendo on the profiteering instincts of her pharmacist friend.

    And now about the game copy of Diaries of a Dead African…

    Although no one quite figured out the endgame, it was all a lot of fun, so thanks to everyone who tossed an opinion into the hat. Near-misses include:

    Adan. He fired off a dozen predictions and naturally a few found the hat :). So yes, Sisi Eko didn’t pay even the N50,000 and went off instead with the ransom. Yes, the kidnappers didn’t get a cent, and Yes no more cheques were written.

    Jeannie: correctly figured that Sisi’s initial concern was genuine – and that a mistress would feature in the endgame (although, No, the mistress would not pay Mr. Ashiru’s ransom!)

    Stanley: Yes, Sisi travels, leaving Mr. Ashiru with his abductors.

    Sandra: also correctly predicts a mistress (but No, she is not the ‘kidnapper’!)

    Crispin’s taciturn prediction: ‘someone is going to get rich. Someone is going to get effed. And someone might just get dead.’ is two-thirds right. But it is also a mischievously open prediction (of the ‘it’s going to rain this year’ variety) 😉

    KT was more detailed: Yes, Mr. Ashiru was cheating on her, Yes, Sisi – nice but not gullible, was planning to leave him for good. Yes she loved him and felt betrayed, but was now playing to get all she could from him.

    Zino: Yes, you rightly imagined Sisi laughing at the picture of him naked with a swollen lip!

    So that is the hall of fame… and the winner is….Adan! Do email me an address and I’ll send off an autographed book to you. Thanks everyone, for making this fun.

    [Sigh] Yes, we now have over 100 comments so look out for another serial Monday. Sisi Eko is probably too embroiled with David Cameron’s retooled British Immigration authorities to indulge any letter-writing right now, so it might be someone else, who knows. Sign up your email on the right side bar to stay in the loop.

    Do enjoy what is left of the weekend.

    Reply
  16. yvonne amenuvor says:

    this is very funny!! i love this woman, sad story but hilarious at the same time. i just joined but so far i love it keep it up
    hehehe

    Reply
  17. Kofi Gbedemah says:

    I have just come to the very, very sad realisation that I CANNOT write, and will NOT be able to ever write….
    At least nothing close to what I have just read.
    That having been said, I shall always enjoy reading excellent pieces such as these from those who can.
    Chuma is obviously a very talented pen (or keyboard!)
    Very well written, and like a previous commentator said, 100 comments or not, Chuma has just won the heart of one more fan, and I implore him to start work on his next piece immediately…

    Reply
    1. Chuma says:

      High praise indeed, Kofi. But you know, one of the many miracles of the pressure cooker is the conversion of tough cowhide into the succulent ponmo of the dinner table. In other words, its more elbow grease….

      Reply
  18. Chikodili says:

    Dammit! Not even close. I have shamed my village. I must now go and flagellate myself.
    But wonderful short story. Even better twist with the letters being proof of asylum.
    To reside in your mind…

    Reply
  19. Wawa says:

    Thank you for an interesting read. I was always wondering why she was so compliant. Shall be looking forward to your book.

    Reply
  20. Abdul Adan says:

    On the “anti-moslem” thing; Sisi Eko is a non-moslem, non-igbo, nigerian woman. I expect that from her. The writer did a good job, in trying to keep it all true and honest to the character of Sisi. Like most, if not all, Sisi preffers a western country.

    Reply
    1. Chuma says:

      @Yvonne, Wawa, thanks for the comments.

      @Chikodili… your village’s pride is safe; predictions are a lottery!

      @Abdul… It’s a balance thing, but politically correct characters also tend to bore somewhat…

      Reply
  21. Will says:

    Words fail to do this justice… this is great. Sisi Eko quite the eloquent negotiator for a “housewife”. As to how we men are and how we think, I guess one could leave that up in the air.

    I thoroughly enjoyed all six of them, although Day 2’s had me splitting my sides from laughing so hard.

    But the piece the resistance, the grande finale (especially the salutation at the end) capped this series magnificently. I’ll probably sign up and follow your works from here on in, because if this is anything to go on, it’s only going to get better from here on out.

    Thank you so much for the delightful read.

    Reply
  22. Adolphous says:

    Hey,
    This started my day real good. Had to take a break to go clean out the tears in my eyes and my running nose, all from laughter. Your sense of humour is right down my alley and the write up is beautiful, character stays true to type. Simply wonderful. Thanks Chuma, you’ve just got a fan.

    Reply
  23. Firoze says:

    Goodness – these can’t be fictional – they are too good for that. Nearly died laughing.

    Reply
  24. Ocan Ifeyinwa says:

    i am a fan of your books and this Ransom Letters. Great Writing!

    Reply
  25. Sandra Ajaps says:

    Mr. Chuma, I just read Sisi Eko’s first letter in one of the dailies and had τo google you up because the piece was so out of this world..brilliantly fantastic!! I’m glad I did because I was entertained with the other letters and an outlook into your works..I’m also excited that you are a Lion, it thrills to know that I share an alma mata with someone as great as you are..(Long live University of Nigeria!!!).. More grease τo your elbows, Sir..Bravo!!!

    Reply
    1. Chuma says:

      Glad I can count you a fan, Sandra.

      Looks like your Google habit has just saved you 6 weeks of suspense…

      Reply

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