I came to Lagos without a single kobo in my pocket.
I got lucky by getting a job at The African Guardian magazine, published by The Guardian stable, after writing a test that was published in the maiden edition.
The compliment I got from the legendary editor-in-chief Andy Akporugo was this: “Don’t think you are too hot! I’ll simply chuck you out!”
Well, my salary was less than N500 a month and I needed one month to go by for me to get my first pay.
I settled into the house of my bosom friend who had just been employed as a police inspector and was living in the police quarters at Satellite Town.
I was thinking of how I could survive my first Lagos weekend on an empty pocket when my friend’s neighbour, a lady police inspector, told me she was about to host a party that weekend. She promptly gave me some crisp naira notes that she wanted me to spray her with at the proposed party!
This was a lady I had never ever met in my life. Call it a miracle, and I will tell you it was much more than that.
Once the woman got back into her home I took off to give myself a good meal and some good beers.
I lived large on the woman’s money.
The cash was a good percentage of my proposed salary. It was cool by me to understand how to live big on other people’s money.
I was in the bar until closing time and I was back the next day having the time of my life.
I saw the woman’s daughter passing by, and readily offered her a drink. She of course did not know it was her mother’s money!
Let’s make progress to the party in which I was supposed to spray the heavy money.
It happened that it rained so much that the party could no longer hold. People do talk of raining cat and dogs, but this was more like raining buffaloes and elephants. Nobody could afford to leave his or her home to come for the party.
From the window of my room, I could hear the lady inspector raining curses on the evil forces that forged the rain that spoilt her party. She cursed and cursed until morning came. I could not sleep a wink.
I was so afraid that she would come to ask me to give her back her money that I began forging tales of how I would convince her that I was attacked by daredevil robbers who took away the money.
Back then one did not known that snakes could swallow money!
I was so troubled that I sneaked out of the house so that she would never ever set eyes on me to ask for her money back.
As James Hadley Chase would say: I made myself so scarce, he could not see me for dust!
In the end, she never said anything about the money. And so as my good mother in literature, Rosina Umelo, titled her short story, I became “the man who ate the money.”