“Hey Pops, sorry I missed your call. It’s been incredibly difficult getting a hold of you these days though. What have you been up to?”
It was a Saturday and Shata had spent the morning playing football with the feeder team of Bayelsa United. He met the players when he went to workout at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex because Elder Iniebong told him it was the best place for exercising and hanging out with the rich and powerful men in the state. After the game, he stayed back to have drinks with the coaches and some friends he made in the field. He didn’t know his father had tried reaching him until he got back to the car and his driver handed him his phone.
“I’ve been in all kinds of engagements at work and raising funds for my foundation. What about you, Son? How are you holding up?”
“I’ve been good. Things are pretty hectic in the company but I’m getting a hang of it. I think I’m starting to find my rhythm. The audit is going on well and I went out to play football this morning,” Shata filled his father in on what he had been up to. “I’m also having dinner with Chief Edozie and his wife. Mrs. Ohita invited me!”
“That’s nice. I am happy you are adjusting well to your new environment and making friends.”
“I don’t have a choice Pops. I have to stay busy and keep myself happy. And you know me, I like to get the job done.”
“Speaking of getting things done, I know we can’t go into details over the phone so I’m thinking I’ll spend a few days in Yenagoa next month. I’ll be on vacation and I really don’t want to travel until we wrap up things there.”
“It would be nice to have you around, Pops. A couple of things have come up already, but I’ll bring you up to speed when we meet face to face. Do you have a date already?”
“I haven’t worked that out yet, but I’d let you know once I figure out my schedule,” Ambassador Nebu Anele told his son.
“Okay, that sounds good. Let me allow you to get on with your day then. I just wanted to check up on you and the others at home since we’ve both been missing our calls.”
The father and son said their goodbyes and hung up.
On the drive back home from the sports complex, Shata took in the sights and sounds of the city he would call home for the next few months. He knew he would be done with the task his father gave him in less than a year and he couldn’t wait to get back to life in the much busier city of Abuja.
As Elder Iniebong meandered through avoidable congestions caused by impatient drivers in cars and kekes, and the occasional pedestrians that crossed dangerous intersections completely oblivious of traffic rules, Shata allowed himself reminisce on the last conversation he had with his father before leaving for Yenagoa.
They had spoken about the plan.
“Edozie Express should have been mine, but Rowland pushed me out of something that has my brains, sweat, and blood buried in its foundation.”
“So, you want me to find a way of making you the owner of the company again?”
“No. Shata, I want you to destroy Edozie Express. I want you to obliterate it from existence.”
At first, Shata didn’t want to get involved in his father’s personal vendetta but the older Anele was persistent and persuasive. Helping his father bring down a behemoth like EE, that was the source of livelihood to so many people wasn’t something he wanted to do, but the more he thought about it, the more he realised he couldn’t let his father down. However, getting vengeance for his father, Shata quickly acknowledged that he needed the distraction of embarking on such an important project with his old man because of the issues he was dealing with his own life.
Being recently divorced and having lost custody of his only daughter, Shata welcomed the distraction of a new challenge. He didn’t speak about it much, but the failure of his marriage and being separated from his girls devasted him. He hated that in so many ways, family history repeated itself in his life.
Meeting and falling in love with Heidi, the first white girl that befriended him when he went to the UK for his second degree in Forensic Accounting was reminiscent of his maternal grandmother’s story. Heidi was German, beautiful, and excited about his African heritage. They got married eight months into their relationship and at the end of his programme he returned to Nigeria with his degree and a foreign wife his father and grandparents couldn’t stand.
Heidi’s curiosity about Africa wore off very quickly and the hostility from her in-laws didn’t help. They were fighting a lot because she was lonely and had no friends. When she threatened suicide and took steps to accomplish it, Shata had to let her go. By this time, the thrill of being married to a white woman and having a child that could pass for white was gone. They were two very different people and the marriage was never going to work. For many years, the glue was their daughter. Shata loved his little girl beyond words and knowing that he wasn’t going to be a part of her growing up was the most painful experience of his life.
Shata wanted to forget the pain. He hoped that Yenagoa would help him forget the pain.
Shata arrived ten minutes early for dinner with the Edozies. The maid who let him into the mansion ushered him to a small living room with minimalist furnishing. It was a different lounge from the one he was received on his first visit.
When the door opened, it wasn’t Ohita or Chief that walked in. It was a girl; a very beautiful girl and Shata was convinced he saw the vision of an angel. She walked straight to him and he rose to greet her.
“Hi, my name is Klarissa. Sorry, my parents aren’t at home. My dad is in Abuja for a meeting – something urgent and unexpected. My mother had to leave for the Government house. The Governor sent for her about the new hospital EE is building for the Government. In their absence, they insist that I do my best to provide you with good food.”
Shata gawked as she spoke. He wanted to say something funny in response, but the only thing he could say was his name.
“Shata, my name is Shata.”
“I know,” Klarissa smiled. “So, Mr. Shata, I’m sure there’s something in the kitchen we can eat, but I’m not in the mood for something boring this evening. There’s this new place I just discovered around Tombia. They have the best steak in Nigeria, I swear. Would you like to join me?”