Saturday 10 July 2021


 Dear Ewatomi,

I must confess that along the way, I paused once or twice to wonder why I was telling this tragic story. What lesson could I possibly pontificate on from this story? Neither of us is a model, and I do not suppose that either of us intend to follow that path in the future, so why would I bring up the tragic end of a once promising young lady?

If you observed, over the next one month after the day you told me about your numerous suitors, the one thousand and one of them including Ali Baba and his forty thieves, Sinbad and the crew on his seven voyages, everyone of the soldiers packed in the Trojan horse, and the three hundred Spartans, I maintained a conspicuous silence with you made possible by a more conspicuous distance from you. The infrequent calls and chats were intentional. My mind and heart needed a new ecosystem in which my affection for you would not interrupt sound judgement. I thought about my place in the long term race for your love, and quickly convinced myself to seek out a new challenge which held less odds. This quick decision yielded the rest of the time for me to ponder on the quality of the men over whom you have mounted your love and marital future as a golden trophy. Now, out of the race myself, my bias did not accompany me on this reflection, if it did my recommendations obviously would be compromised, but I make bold to say that whatever I am saying here is purely based on the indifference of logic in which all emotions add up to zero, and of which one plus one would equal two. 

Mr. Harry of whom you have so well spoken is a fantastic lad, fantastic in the actual sense of fantasy;  something that is too good to be true. I would wonder if you are sure whether his 'Harry' is short for 'Henry' or short for 'Harold', but that would be to challenge your overall awareness which is a topic for another day, a day I intend to bypass. I would wonder if his oil company job is in an oil company or in an oil company, if the oil in question is crude oil or vegetable oil. Not that it would matter if love is truly unconditional. I would wonder if truly he lives in Malaysia, but was born in England and thus an Englishman of Nigerian descent. I would wonder how real his estates are and how true his huge pay is. Am I saying that he is not who he says he is? Not at all, ‘too good to be true’ is not necessarily ‘too good and therefore false'. Having considered the details of his story and put things in context, I dare say that some things if true make others quite unlikely. I may have met a Nigerian sailor in landlocked Mali  or a Nigerian chef in Italy, I might have also met a Nigerian firefighter in Antarctica, but a Nigerian oil worker in Malaysia? Well, you never can tell these days. And of course he is in Nigeria on leave, and has been on leave for the past three months. Do even maternity leaves last that long nowadays? I wonder if I intend to make any point with my skepticism here, maybe the point is that whether Harry is 'Harold’ or 'Henry’ he appears to be too enthusiastic to prove himself competent, and in my experience when people are too enthusiastic to prove unnecessary points quite often some things are either exaggerated or an outright falsehood. 

If my sentiments here are right then what I see here with his many claims about himself could be that he is desperate to come across as a man of legitimate means, and if that is the case the probability is high that his means are illegitimate. And if one detail is false, do we assume that some others cannot also be false? If a man would win you over with falsehood, how much falsehood would he employ to keep you?

Doctor Ben, as you fondly call him, appears to have a less suspicious profile. Faking one’s way to medical practice in a university teaching hospital is as rare as a rave in a monastery. As a medical doctor, I assume that his life would be as orderly as surgical procedure. Maybe he is not a heavy drinker, does not stay out late, watches his diet, and possesses all the details that make for a proper boring gentleman. I believe he is someone you can live with, but I doubt he is someone you cannot live without. He may have the things that can offer you a peaceful home but I am not convinced that he has what it takes to give you an exciting matrimony. It is good to know that a man does not shout at his wife, but it is not good enough that he has no sense of humour to make her shout in laughter. It is good to know that a man has a bright mind, but it is not good enough if his best idea of fun is the game of Monopoly. It is good enough that a man keeps to time but it is not good enough if he thinks that a romantic date is a waste of time. Again as with Harry’s ‘Henry’ and ‘Harold’, I would wonder if you know whether Ben is 'Benjamin' or 'Benedict'.

Age is just number, but I would be dishonest to pretend that the numbers between you and Kelvin are not too many. I admire his honesty in telling you his real age, it would appear rather more likely that in a matter as this a man of his age would rather lie about his age to come off as a younger man than say the truth and hurt his chances. He even has the looks to make a lie believable, and I have seen some men in their late twenties and early thirties who look older than he is. We must acknowledge his honesty. Honesty and good intentions aside, forty two and twenty two are even numbers but it would seem odd that a lady so young would settle for a man at the gates of midlife. If the love is there then I would admit that the next consideration is always about what people would say. You expect that typically younger girls do not get married to much older men without certain assurances. People believe that it is always motivated by money, and Ogá Kelvin is not deficient in that regard. If everything else is in order and public opinion does not fluster you, then I would say without holding back that yours is a match I would recommend. He is mature, urbane, a complete dose of humour, and not to mention that his importation business is as prosperous as stink to a warthog and as legitimate as the Obama administration.

While it is important to know how much you are loved by any of them, I want you to give as much attention to the profile or background of these suitors. I believe that I would be belabouring the point if I go ahead to write about Calistus the ex seminarian who claims to have found in you his new calling, or Mike the banker, or Odogwu the first of the two suitors in Dubai, or Martin his city rival. Look out for the silent and salient points beyond their fascinating stories. Check them out on their social media profiles, check their old pictures and posts. Get to know their philosophy of life and get to know who they are when they are not in love. Are they humble because they are humble or are they humble because they have nothing for which they can be proud? How do they speak to those they consider lower than themselves? Are they polite to you but rude to the waiter? These details slip out no matter how much one might want to hide them, and if you pay attention you would see them if they are there.

The world can be a dark and scary place. Sometimes grace is the illumination we need to go through dark alleys, and sometimes it is our wide open eyes. And It doesn’t get much darker than the choice of a life partner. Love, they say is blind, perhaps it is blinded by the darkness of these paths. But I like to think that love is not blind, it is drunk, it staggers, it trips, it falls, it belches, it gets up and it keeps moving. The blindness of love, to me, is but the blurriness of vision, a drunk driver seeing two steering wheels and four hands. It is at this point that you may be blind to obvious things, you may underrate his faults and overrate his strengths. When you are overpowered by emotion, your logic would be compromised. But as with drunkenness, you would eventually sober up and then see the things you could not see before. Maybe I am a timely voice of reason in these alcoholic times, and maybe mine are the sober eyes with which you should see clearly in this period.

I would call you ‘honey’, but you are meant for another man’s cup. Things are such that I can make recommendations on whose cup you pour into, so that in time I will be at ease knowing full well that you are not the honey that poured away.

Okwuchukwu Augustine Ndulue.

Tuesday 6 July 2021


The romance which began between Hannah and Osvaldo was more Eastern than it was Latin, the fondness and clingy attachment was as steamy as an Ottoman bath and no less sophisticated. Every fashion show in a different city was as much about business as it was about fun, they were like the honeymoon before the wedding. Paris, Milan, Rio, Tokyo, or London, Hannah toured the world but more than that Osvaldo toured her heart. More than winning her love, he won her trust. Hannah saw in him an infallible being with whom she could entrust her life. However, while we may say that a dog is man's best friend, it would be important to be sure that the man is the dog’s best friend. For Hannah love was so blind that she couldn’t see a lot of things, didn’t ask questions, and didn’t check if this man was actually a man or a dog, or rather how much of him was a dog. 
Like the moon of which we only see a side, the bright side, there was a side to Osvaldo which Hannah had not seen, the dark side. And more than that there were other sides to the fashion industry which Hannah had not been broken into. 
Trouble started when Pedro Morales called Hannah on the telephone inviting her for a review of her contract which would see her get an improved contract; better pay, better jobs, better shows, and bigger brands. He wanted to “take her to the next level”. Hannah would tell Osvaldo about it expecting him to share in her joy, but Osvaldo wasn’t delighted. He knew a lot about this ‘next level' being an active participant himself. Pedro Morales was a covert member of one of the biggest drug and crime groups in the subcontinent, his sojourn into model management was initially in his bid to find a decent façade for his illegitimate trade. Also, he had over the years used some of the top models under his management to move illicit drugs across the border. He would invite them for a review of their contract, introduce the topic of drug trafficking to them, and if the model agreed to play ball then the next level was on, she would get a cut out of the drug deals, along with an improved contract. But if the model would not play ball, having known this dirty secret, said models soon lose their lives under controversial circumstances. Osvaldo played an outfield role in these. Where the model would swallow the drugs before boarding, it was Osvaldo's job to prepare the drugs and make prepare the drugs and their human container would remain in good condition before during and after the flight. Pedro Morales had a number of agents who played that role but Osvaldo was his most trusted lieutenant. 
Also, there were two or three occasions on which the task of arranging a believable accident for a model who wouldn’t play ball was given to Osvaldo, and he delivered to a fatal perfection. But with the invitation extended to Hannah by Pedro Morales, Osvaldo had found himself in an entirely new situation. This was a girl he had come to sincerely love, he had even had the thought of marriage cross his mind in recent weeks. Don Pedro Morales obviously knew about their romance, but apparently thought it was a fleeting thing that would fade with time, Osvaldo thought that if Pedro Morales knew that he really loved Hannah then he would not have invited her to this next level. Hannah on her part could not think of a good reason why Osvaldo would not be in support of her coming promotion, where had he kept his “Congratulation”? What had happened to his cheerful words of encouragement, that reassuring speech that he often gave about how she was destined for the top? Hannah easily picked out the flat dullness of Osvaldo’s tone in conversations, his countenance was too colourless to avoid notice. Yet he wouldn’t open up to Hannah just yet on why he has maintained that mood ever since she broke the news to him. Telling Hannah the truth about that one thing would mean telling her the truth about everything. And with Hannah he was not ready to face the truth of how dark the hidden side of his moon was. 
Osvaldo took a bold step sooner than later, he met with Pedro Morales in private and requested that he make an exception with Hannah. That he, Osvaldo, would take it as a token of Morales' appreciation of his lieutenant's loyalty all these years. It was a smooth conversation and Pedro Morales acceded to his request on the condition that Hannah would then not be getting any improved contract. Osvaldo took it upon himself to explain Pedro Morales' change of mind to Hannah, but lied that the plan was temporarily withheld due to contingencies that needed massive funding, and that Hannah should expect the contract offer back in a short time. 
Now his smile was back, and hers too. On the spur of the moment Osvaldo would propose marriage, to which Hannah gladly accepted. She got her family involved and wedding plans began. However, as days and weeks went by something odd seemed to be happening. The advertisement jobs were no longer coming, the brands with which she had running agreements became increasingly uninterested in her, and the fashion shows which often took her around the world were no longer inviting her. Hannah was beginning to live not on her prosperity but on her reserves. Pedro Morales would not pick her  phone calls and he would not reply her mails. Osvaldo understood what was going on; this was Pedro Morales making a statement, he was obviously the one throwing the spanner in the works. Osvaldo tried to reassure Hannah that all will be well. His love life had come in the way of his work, and romance had soured his relationship with his boss. Hannah was not alone in this blackout, Osvaldo soon realized that he too was being shut out. Every attempt to get to Pedro Morales failed. Without a single word, Pedro Morales had spoken, and in clear terms; he no longer wanted them. To where would this intending couple now turn? Osvaldo had been with Morales long enough to know how everything was done, both in the fashion and modelling business and in the dark streets of drug trafficking. Perhaps this was time to go solo. First he used his experience in law to get the brands to pay Hannah off since they had made it clear that they no longer wanted her. What they got was enough to fund their wedding, and to raise the capital needed to float a new model management agency.
 In starting HANNOSVA Agency, a company name that he coined from Hannah and Osvaldo, Osvaldo Lopez wasn’t hoping to someday rival Pedro Morales. He merely wanted to put his experience to good use, and to get Hannah actively involved in a legitimate business. They scouted for little known models and worked with them from the ground up. Things were beginning to look good again for Hannah, within a year of breaking ties with Pedro Morales, she now co-owned a company, had gotten married, and not only had the freedom to pursue her career by her own rules, she now had the opportunity of mentoring and guiding younger models.
Bad habits live long in secret, and for Osvaldo his appetite for the drug trade was well and truly alive. He wanted back in it so badly that he left the day-to-day running of the agency to Hannah who was now pregnant, and invested much time and effort in re-establishing ties with the estranged partners of Pedro Morales. The Tigres cartel in Mexico were no longer seeing eye to eye with Pedro Morales after an ill-fated drug deal, aligning with them for Osvaldo would spite Pedro Morales. Spiting Morales was not his aim, he wanted a group that would take him as one of them, that would offer him protection along the violent and dark paths of drug trafficking, however, if spiting Morales would be a by-product of achieving that aim, he would not have any reservations whatsoever.
His new alliance with the Tigres  group was without hitches, he eased seamlessly back into the trade, and was now enjoying more freedom than he had with Morales. Still he managed to keep Hannah out of it, while making good deals, settling his dues with the bosses and being his own man all at the same time. It didn’t look like anything could go wrong now. 
As big as Pedro Morales' physique was his appetite for vengeance, and just about any form of hurt or spite against him was worth revenging. He would not take any prisoners in his dealings with anyone who dared challenge him, and there was a touch of finality about the thoroughness of his methods. He was not the sort of man who would hit his enemy and allow him enough strength to live to fight another day, rather he was the sort of man who would make sure that his enemy wouldn’t see another day, especially enemies that can’t match him in power or influence. I wouldn’t be wrong to say that in his philosophy of life he took Machiavelli too seriously. Had Osvaldo stopped at starting an agency of his own, Pedro Morales might not have bothered so much about him, but aligning with the Tigres cartel could not be forgiven. Also Osvaldo knew him too well to be allowed to work with a competent enemy, this latter  reason for Morales cancelled out any lean thought of sparing Osvaldo, he had to be dealt with in the most severe of ways. And in Morales' book only murder was severe enough. And it so happened that that timeless irony would be remembered again; that he who lives by the sword dies by it. Osvaldo had seen the intrinsic conflicts of this drug business claim the lives of others, but he could not have told that his life would end in the way that  Pedro Morales had so planned. 
Hannah was in the office when news came in that Osvaldo had died having been shot in the chest at close range in the subway. And in a mix of fear and grief she went into labour immediately. Her assistants helped get her to the hospital, but despite the best efforts of the doctors, nurses and midwives, even though the child lived, Hannah died.

Okwuchukwu Augustine Ndulue.