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There is no point living in a fool’s paradise nor deceiving anyone. Moreover, I knew this relationship would never last from the onset. Although the manner event unfolded in recent times between us projected towards a concretized close-knit relationship. However, the consciousness that I never wanted a committed relationship has not in the least eluded me. Now is the time to back out of the whole affair and very fast too, just before trouble starts. These were the self-contentions of Jack Solomon, otherwise called JS for short. As the thoughts raged in his mind, albeit in a very aggressive manner, JS never knew when he went overboard with a sense of guilt and doing something drastic.

As the last born and only male child in a family of five, he was an overpampered child of a trader who shuttles between the family base in Lagos and the North where she engages in business activities. She goes up North with items in demand, but peculiar and cheap down South, and returns with the same business strategy to exploit markets in the South. Her effective communication was facilitated initially by her husband’s connection with the railway in the early days of her business and later with the emergence of luxurious buses as the smart transportation medium.

JS mum’s trade had grown long before his birth. As a woman with strong business principles, coupled with the fact that she was exceptionally hardworking, she could be said to have become what socialists would term ‘petty bourgeoisie’. Blessed with four beautiful girls, the thought of not having a son as the heir of the family became her major concern as this had affected many homes. From her experience, and fuelled by tradition, most men with such issues often count it as the wife’s weakness, and they end up in extramarital affairs as a selfish means of resolving the matter. The deep desire of having a son to secure her marriage and satisfy her husband’s wish led to her pregnancy and, as fate would have it, JS was born into the waiting hands of a doting mother.

The emotional attachment to his birth created an exceptional bond between them and turned him to mummy’s tail and boy, always with his mother anywhere she went. JS became a childhood traveler, always accompanying his mother on every trip embarked upon. This primarily had an adverse effect as he grew up distracted from academics and could only maintain an average performance. On the other hand, he became enchanted with his mother’s business. With the countless number of trips in the business shuttles, JS became quite familiar with the principles, technicalities, and intricacies involved in the trade. The business grew larger into a family one that two of his sisters were able to apply their graduate skills in restructuring and injecting modern strategies in sourcing, storing, and selling the items. However, the experience JS acquired directly from their mum gave him the edge and made him more valuable to the business as their mum was aging and becoming too weak to traverse long distances. So, he remained the arrowhead of the transformed enterprise and the supervisor managing the Sourcing and Purchasing Department.

On one of JS’s trips to the North, he stumbled on a beautiful and intelligent lady called Sade. Sade, a fresh graduate of Economics from the University of Lagos, after being dealt with by years of ASUU strike finally got the chance to answer the clarion call to serve the nation. From a decent and average home, Sade was able to raise her flight tickets from relatives as she had never travelled that far, and to her, that would be the fastest and safest means to resume the three weeks Orientation Camp of the National Youth Service Corps. Finally boarding a flight to Kaduna from Lagos after long preparation for the awaited experience, Sade was on her way to check-in across the counter when ‘fate’ brought her in contact with JS who was on his regular business trip to the North.

‘Wow! What an epitome of beauty,’ he muttered to himself at the sight of Sade. J.S. felt instantly attracted to her and could not resist the urge to present his ‘manifesto’ to her as was his custom whenever he met any beautiful lady. ‘That one should come across this rare gem and let it go is inconceivable.’

Coincidentally, as JS walked some distance behind Sade, he found out their seats were beside each other as the crew settled everyone for flight take-off. ‘Amazing,’ JS murmured quietly to himself while Sade never had a glimpse of what was happening as they all buckled their seats up. While adjusting to the initial discomfort of flight take-off in the air as a first-timer, the airplane got subjected to flight turbulence due to the weather condition, she unconsciously grabbed JS’s hands beside out of fear. What a profound gateway to initiate a conversation. JS allowed her to express her fears and tried to calm her down, letting her understand that it was nothing to worry about or be scared of.

Sade put herself together when she heard the exact words of JS from the Pilot’s announcement as JS offered her the bottled water already served by the air hostess.

‘Your first time,’ JS asked politely, and Sade nodded in reply as she sipped the water. ‘Mine was terrible that I unconsciously screamed aloud for help.’ Sade laughed, and the gist continued.

‘Going up north for something,’ J.S. asked but before she could answer, he quickly added, ‘Sorry for being too inquisitive. Well, I am Jack Solomon but preferably called JS, and you?’ He paused instantly as if some wicked object had pinched him at the drop of the question from his mouth.

‘Well, I am Sade, a graduate of Economics from the University of Lagos, and I am heading to Sokoto for my NYSC.’

‘That is great, but the camp opened yesterday,’ he probed.

‘That is true anyway, but I could not make it because of some trivial things I had to put in place.’

Then there was some silence as if the two were lost in thought; JS stranded on how to hit back again, and probably Sade gathering herself together from the mini-shock from the turbulence.

‘You look quite familiar. Did you graduate from UNILAG too?’ Sade broke the silence.

JS, who then was a school certificate holder, lied… ‘Yes, I am a graduate but not from UNILAG.’

‘Where and when did you finish?’

‘About two years ago, from ABU in Zaria.’

‘Oh, I see. It must be the reason you are so frequent in the air to the North, right?’

‘Most likely,’ he replied as he continued with his fashioned lies, ‘although I read Marketing, I was able to establish a business while schooling, shuttling between the North and South trading Gold and I was also able to enlarge the business after my service.

‘How about your master’s degree, or are you not interested?’ Sade probed further.

‘I am interested, but I intend having it at UI in Ibadan,’ he lied again.

Questions and counter questions went on and on between them as the airplane descended for landing and the precautionary announcement rolled over the speakers from the pilot. There and then, they struck a balance and finally exchanged numbers hoping to see each other as they disembarked from the flight. Sade was enamoured by JS personality, a handsome graduate in his mid-twenties doing well in business, so she decided to give him a chance but more as a close friend first and much more open to a relationship in the long run. From then on, JS not only ensured that he travelled to Sokoto more frequently than before, but he also made it a point of duty to spend additional days and quality time with Sade and shower her with gifts, both in cash and in-kind on each trip. The relationship got so interesting in no time that both became so intimate and fond of each other without Sade detecting it for a moment that JS had not been truthful; neither with his feelings nor his educational background. Not with the measures JS had in place could Sade ever have been suspicious of her boyfriend’s ‘infidelity.’ The relationship with JS brought her some comfort as a spinster enjoying her service to the nation in a grand style. She did not need to touch a dime from both her Federal and State monthly allowance and even had enough to send home to support the family. As an undergraduate from an average family, Sade did not find it that rosy in her studies. JS became her God-sent, bailing her out of her economic situation. However, she never for once took advantage of him nor placed any financial demand, as regular ladies would have done, on him.

JS spent every single penny out of his own volition and acclaimed love for her. JS’s emotional moves and dedicated financial support paved the way to Sade’s heart, more so that he is ‘equally educated’ and because his funds were business-oriented, not Yahoo- Yahoo-based as was the norm in the society. In fact, she accorded him so much respect that she made him a role model to her brothers in school, and JS was able to establish a barbing salon for one of them (Ola) with barbing skills in school. In one of JS’s trips to see Sade, as he was at the door about to knock, he overheard how Sade showered enormous praise on him while scolding Ola, who could not cope with managing his new salon business with academics.

‘JS while in ABU was running his business shuttling Lagos and Kaduna and still graduated with honours, so what is your excuse running yours in the same spot? JS heard this and got tormented by some guilt coupled with an inferiority complex that should Sade find out his educational background’s truth only belatedly, he might lose the respect he had commanded over time. This disturbed him for days as Sade was very unlike the previous ladies he had dated; they were always demanding and never faithful.

‘The only way out,’ he roared, was to get out of the whole affair before the ridicule eventually came,’ yet he wanted the lady because of her beautiful traits and genuine love for him.

However, the heart’s desire was overshadowed by the thinking of the head, JS actually got so confused but knew the impact the lies made in the past would cause. The issue was how to go about it, as he wanted a scenario of less hurt because of the kind of lady Sade was. Telling her the truth, which was the best way out, was not an option on the table for JS after evaluating what her reaction could be from experience, so he thought he would either abscond and block off all contacts to her or generate a false accusation that would never be resolved and thereby cutting off the ties.

Whichever way it might go,’ JS said to himself, ‘I must get out of this relationship before trouble starts’.

Dr. Lalekan Bolutife OLUWADELE is a Chartered Accountant, Public Policy Scholar, Management Strategist, diligent fraud investigator, writer, and author. He is an experienced trainer in management and business arenas and a corporate governance expert. Educated at Walden University, USA, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom, and Federal College of Education, Katsina, Nigeria. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration. He serves as a member Advisory Board of the Association of Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Mr. Oluwadele is a regular columnist with Premium Times and The Guardian Newspaper and a published author.

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