By Dictargh 


"21, 22, 23...", I continued in my reverie as I counted the number of grains of rice remaining in the black nylon that contained what was left of the one derica of rice I bought three days ago from the ọmọ Ibo who lived next to me. At first glance, one would think it was as a result of joblessness that I engaged in such an unprofitable activity but a second look would surely direct the viewer's gaze to my sunken cheekbones, "colour-less" skin and the forced "Sapa, nice one" grin that etched itself on my face. 

There had been no light for some days now and I had to make use of my roommate, Akpan's stove. Had there been power supply, my hot plate would have shown itself capable of satisfying my cooking needs. Instead, I had to use a stove that was not mine and borrowed kerosene; the kerosene was for Akpan and since he had gone home for a few days, I pleaded with him to lend me the little amount of kerosene remaining in the stove while promising to replenish it with an equivalent amount of money. In summary, I was cooking on credit. Oúnjẹ gbèsè! 

Life was looking at me like "Have you met me?" with that overly sarcastic Cruella kind of look. It was quite frustrating. I remembered hearing people say "One thing must kill a man"; I didn't quite understand till I met the bold and ruthless Sapa. Sapa is actually the native name of the well-known villain in real life commonly referred to as "Lack". It could be lack of money, food or situations that promote these. 

It was Sapa that made Vanessa leave me. There, I said it. It was the first time I said Vanessa's name out loud ever since the unspeakable happened to me. It had been five months, three weeks, four days, twenty minutes and uncountable nanoseconds since Vanessa broke up with me and no, I definitely don't miss her or think she's that important anymore. Chai! Vanessa! Vanessa who promised to spend the rest of her life with me; We had even agreed to have two boys and two girls who would be identical twins and we would name them Zach, Zeke, Zahra and Zinnia respectively, only because Vanessa said her celebrity crush was Zendaya. 

"So much for dreams", I said to myself. The crux of this matter is to present my case to the world and prove that Sapa is a relationship breaker and a confirmed ọmọ dalérú dalérú. Initially, when I was in my first year, things were very rosy for me. I had just gotten admission into a prestigious university and as the first child of my parents, they were ready to do all for me. In addition, my uncles and aunts sent me money from time to time to ensure I was comfortable even as I claimed that the registration process was rigorous. 

Oh, how I paraded myself in my first year. Now that I think about it, it was probably why Vanessa claimed she "liked" me but I was the one who asked her out. What if she charmed me? She was the one giving me the green light anyway. In all, I don't want to take the blame for involving myself in such a fake relationship. 

Two and two put together, and "four-ever" Vanessa and I promised ourselves. Our relationship was the talk of the department- the perfect couple. Vanessa was one of the most beautiful ladies in the class, truth be told. I lavished my pocket money on Vanessa because I was so sure more would come from my parents and that became my system of life; love made me blind or maybe I was just stupid and naive. 

Moving on to second year, I should have seen the signs when my parents sent me to school with half the provisions I took in my first year. I just thought they would replace the missing provisions with some extra money in my bank account. Long story short, I started fighting the battle of "half" in my life- my allowance money was halved and the uncles and aunts I used to see had vanished. Little did I know that Sapa had begun squatting in my corner. 

I still felt gallant and had this ridiculous hope in my heart that all was going to be well so I carried on with my extravagant "Vanessa-inclusive" lifestyle. The day I knew I was finished was the day I withdrew the last one thousand Naira in my bank account to buy Vanessa a packet of Maryland Cookies and a bottle of Pulpy Orange (I'm sure that food didn't digest well in her stomach). After withdrawing and buying the snacks, I called my parents to ask for the usual but instead of don't worry, I got a "Look, you'll have to wait for now because we don't have that cash and how did you even spend all that money? After all, you're no longer in your first year". I can't remember how the call ended because I was in shock for a while. 

I replayed the words in my head over and over again, checked the call log to see if it was my parents I called. My heart began to beat very fast because I knew I didn't have any money or food. I was so used to buying food that the hot plate my parents gave me was still sitting pretty in my cupboard. There was not even a trace of any food stuff in my belongings - it was that terrible. 

For the first time, I recognized the presence of the dreaded entity called Sapa. The mistake I made was to ask Vanessa to lend me some money. I thought my "better half" would cover for me as I had seen in the movies but I don forget say Hollywood no be real life. Till I die, I would never be able to forget the look of disgust Vanessa gave me that day. She said she didn't have any money to give to me after I explained the situation to her. She subtly insulted me after I said I was still receiving money from my parents. She made me know that my mates were hustling while I was still holding on to the strings of my parents' aprons. 

The next day, Vanessa broke up with me via a text message that read: "Olajide, I thought you were a guy of substance but I was wrong. I don't think I can plan my future with a guy who doesn't have money to cater for himself. It was nice while it lasted". Guess what I did? The money I could borrow from a friend: I used half of it to send messages to Vanessa to beg to stay with me. Looking back, I can say that I wasted the money. She was never worth it.

After the whole Vanessa thing, I started understanding the importance of planning financially and growing up. Prudence became my friend and Sapa, my on and off rival. Some days were good while others were "Sapa-induced". In all, I had learnt my lesson well and good.

The vibration of my phone jerked me away from my thoughts and I checked the message. Alas! It was Uncle Bayo from Dubai, my mum's younger brother, who sent me ten thousand Naira. I jumped from the bed with shouts of "Thank you, Jesus!!!". It felt like I had just received one million Naira. Another vibration came in and I saw another message urging all members of my department to pay the departmental dues as the deadline was the following day.

Shaking my head with a grin on my face, I saluted my comrade and said to him "Sapa, nice one!".

  • Ọmọ Ibo - A child of Igbo origin.
  • Oúnjẹ gbèsè - Food on credit.
  • ọmọ dalérú dalérú - A child who scatters the home.