‘I hope you don’t mind this Bint, but I’m going to remove my face mask right now.
‘I always do so when I enter a house because it’s difficult for me to breathe with it.’
My friend Hafsah remarked, the moment she stepped foot into my sitting room.
‘By all means do so Hafsah, in fact ever since the day I heard the WHO official saying asymptomatic people can’t infect others, I’ve stopped covering my nose because I also find it hard to breathe with the surgical mask.
‘Even though WHO turned round to say that wasn’t what they meant, I prefer to believe their first statement.
‘Therefore, unless I see someone coughing or sneezing, I generally keep the mask under my chin or at best over my mouth.’ I answered.
‘Well, thank God I’m not the only one wishing these face mask days will be over soonest.’ Maryam said, walking into the room, ‘It doesn’t only make breathing difficult for me it also makes me sweat profusely on my face.
‘So alhamdulilLah for a venue where no one will force me to keep it on.’ She added, reaching out to shake our hands.
‘And alhamdulilLah for a meeting where we can shake hands like the good old days.’ Asabe added from the doorway.
‘It’s hard to believe how much this pandemic has forced us to change our ways, until you recall that the simple joys of hugging and shaking hands were also taken away from us in the name of prevention.
‘I’m glad we can now meet and greet as usual. Like Bint said we’ll all choose to stand with the WHOs first statement, because it makes a lot more sense than saying anyone can infect you, whether they have the symptoms or not.’ She concluded, also walking in to shake our hands and take a seat.
‘You are welcome ladies, ma sha Allah, we are all on time today.
‘When I said let’s meet after Asr, I thought it will be by 4.30 or even after, but look it’s not even 4.15 and we are all here.’ I commended.
‘Yes, you know Asr is about 20 to 4pm now, so it’s possible to pray on time and leave home early.’ Hafsah responded.
‘And after the way you insisted we must meet today, you know we wouldn’t want to disappoint you.
So what’s the emergency?’ Maryam asked.
‘Why don’t you let me serve you some refreshments first?
‘Then we can talk.’ I suggested.
‘No Bint, we are all coming from home now and we have to return before Magrib so forgot the juices and other delights and let’s talk.
‘Anyone who wants something can request it later.
‘We are not strangers in your house.
‘We are all at home here or aren’t we?’ Asabe asked the others, to which they all nodded.
‘Ok, in that case let’s get to the reason we are all here.’
At that point, I opened my laptop and clicked play on a video that was still on the screen.
‘Oh, so this is a movie-watching meeting?
‘You should have allowed her to serve the refreshments Asabe, movies are better seen when you are munching something.’ Hafsah observed.
‘It’s not really a movie, in fact the footage is almost guaranteed to make you lose your appetite if you are eating.
‘So just hang on a second and it will play.’ I replied.
Then suddenly it started, a wedding scene with several people holding wads of bank notes and spraying them around.
The bride and groom were standing, elegantly attired, a few steps away, while all over the floor were all kinds of currency denominations.
There were some in Nigerian naira and others in American dollars.
Those spraying the money continued to do so as if there weren’t too many on the floor, waiting to be picked.
The bride and groom weren’t dancing but the sprayers were not deterred by their inactivity, they kept throwing out our money, our national pride, all over the floor and on the bride’s long dress.
‘What is this Bint?’ Maryam was the first to recover. ‘Is this real or a Kannywood production?’ She asked.
‘Kannywood what? This is a true-life event Maryam.
‘It happened a few days ago.
‘The wedding of the daughter of a top general.
‘As if that’s a license to do their worst, they flaunt their ill-gotten wealth for us to see.
‘Meanwhile our country is battling an insurgency, an unprecedented spate of banditry, kidnapping and other forms of insecurity while the soldiers at the battlefield say they have no weapons with which to fight.
‘They claim that the insurgents, the bandits and the kidnappers all have better weapons than them.
‘And now you know why this is so.
‘If the wedding of a general’s daughter can attract this much show of wealth, do you doubt where the money with which to equip our military-men goes?’ I asked rhetorically.
‘It’s really obvious that these people aren’t even aware of the suffering our people are going through.’ Asabe found her voice.
‘Even if there is no insecurity, there is abject poverty and hunger and disease.
‘So I can’t believe that in the face of all these, some people will have no use for their money but to spray it at parties.’ She added.
‘But it isn’t their money.’ Hafsah chipped in.
‘If it was, they wouldn’t be throwing it so carelessly on the floor.
‘It’s our money, our country’s money that was meant to secure the nation and keep crimes at bay.
‘But having diverted it to personal use, they have nothing else to do but waste it on useless pursuits like this.’ She stated.
‘And now you know why I called us here.
‘This is a cursing meeting, if you like.
‘We are gathered here today to curse all those who stole or diverted money meant for national missions to personal use.
‘We pray that whatever they use the money for will never receive The Almighty’s blessings.
‘We also pray that for any Nigerian who suffered or lost his life on account of the looting done by these people, which prevented our troops from getting the weapons they need to fight deadly criminals, may The Almighty punish them both in this world and the next.’ I supplicated.
‘Amen to your prayers Bint.
‘Truly our uniformed oppressors deserve no mercy from us because they also show us no mercy in their dishonesty and looting.’ Maryam said.
‘While we are at it why don’t we add the civilians who are also doing the same insensitive show in the midst of the poverty and suffering of our people.
‘Take the case of this governor’s son,’ Asabe said, showing us a video from her phone screen.
To be continued.