Friday, 17 August 2018

Showers of Blessing

For the thousandth time that morning, Sanmi looked down at his phone and the SMS alert displayed on it, still unable to believe what he was seeing.

His salary alert ought to be 80,000 naira, just like it had been for the past 7 months, but what he was seeing on his screen was 80,000,000.

“80 million, 80 million, 80 million,” he whispered to himself, again and again. How was it even possible? How?

“Sanmi, are you okay?”

He dropped the phone quickly and looked up to see Gideon, his partner in the company’s IT department staring hard at him, a few worry furrows evident on his fleshy forehead.

“Yes, yes, I am okay…”

“Are you sure? You have been unusually quiet today.” He stood up as though he wanted to take a closer look to confirm his fears and was able to. “You even look unsettled.”

Oga, mind your business, jor, Sanmi thought to himself, but, aloud, he said. “I am fine o. Just trying to solve this server error.” Then he quickly changed the subject by saying, “Omo, this rain does not want to stop. I hope it won’t rain for the whole of today at this rate.”

Gideon shrugged. “Even if it does, na showers of blessings. Or didn’t you notice the rain brought in salary alert? They don’t usually pay this early.”

If only you knew, Sanmi thought. His mind travelled back to the alert. It was clear that somehow, an error had been made in paying him. The N80m he had received was a thousand times more than his rightful pay. And that singular error had now dunked him into the biggest dilemma of his life. Should he go to the accounts department and report the error, or should he just keep mum and take it as showers of blessing?

“O’ boy, make I try resolve this problem jare, make I get myself,” he said to Gideon and pretended to return to work. But his mind was still overwhelmed by his dilemma.

Give yourself brain, man, one mind said to him. This is an opportunity of a life time. This is beyond showers of blessing; it is tsunami of blessing.  This is eighty freaking million we are talking about here. That’s not moi-moi money. Imagine how your life would change.

What if you are caught, another mind reasoned. What if the company finds out the error and get you arrested? You will end up in jail. Your life will be ruined. You have to report it.
Hold on. How am I even sure this is not just an alert error. How am I sure that such an amount of money is actually sitting in my account? He mentally shot back at the two voices. Before I give myself migraine here. I need to confirm the money is actually real.

He shot off his seat. “Gideon, I am coming. Let me quickly buy something outside.” And before the ever-inquisitive Gideon could ask what exactly he wanted to buy, he hurried off.

He hustled his tall, rangy form out of his office as quickly as his long legs could go, not minding the still showering rain, aiming for the ATM machine situated opposite the building. He was happy to see that there was no queue there. He slotted in his card quickly and checked his account balance.

80,001,253 was the figure the ATM console threw back at him.

So it was no error. There were really millions sitting in his account. Actual millions! His legs almost gave way beneath him, so deep his shock. In fact, he stood there shaking like he was about to drop into an epileptic fit. It was one thing seeing that figure on his small phone screen; quite another to see it displayed so boldly on the screen of an ATM.

Sanmi, you better make use of this golden opportunity that God has dropped on your laps, Voice Number 1 returned. Like they say, opportunity comes knocking once. This will change your life completely; your children, your wife, your mother; all your lives will change…

Sanmi, do the right thing, Voice Number 2 countered.

Back in the office, he could not get any work done. He was consumed by the war that raged on in his mind, the tussle between Voice Number 1 and Voice Number 2, each trying to convince him on the action to take.

True, he badly wanted to do as Voice Number 1 asked. Who wouldn’t? The struggle that had been his life so far, the suffering, the endless inability to make ends meet… this was the perfect solution to it. His kids would want for nothing ever again. He would not have to worry about rent and school fees anymore. He would get them the best of everything they needed; which they more than deserved. Yet, the fear Voice Number 2 had cast in his mind was a pretty valid one. What if the error was noticed and he got arrested for not reporting? What if he ended up in jail?

Forget that one, there are ways to protect yourself. It’s very easy. Withdraw the money, all of it. Abscond with your family. Is it not who the police find that they will jail? Voice Number 1 advised. Just think about it… you will finally have a car; your children will go to the best schools and their school fees will always be paid on time; no more embarrassments. You will have your own house, your wife will be the envy of other women, you will be travelling abroad like someone that is going to the market. You can even relocate abroad completely.

But Voice Number 2 was not done either. “If you run away with your immediate family, what about your Mum?  What if they put her in jail because of you…

Voice 1: Simple, you will just take her with you…

Voice 2: What about your siblings, will you take them all with you too? That’s not possible. So, will you let one of them suffer for your sins? You would also be a wanted man forever. You will never be able to run for any political position in the future…

Voice 1: Who political position help!

Voice 2: You will never be able to run an account, neither would your wife, because your fingerprints would be used to hunt you down for this crime. Can you risk being a wanted criminal all your life and thereby tainting your children’s future?

Sanmi had had enough. He jumped to his feet and marched toward the accounts department. He would report the error once and for all and end this tumult.

But his burst of bravado fizzled out the moment he arrived at the door, and he hesitated.  The thought of letting go of all that money was painful.

He looked up, as though to the skies, “Oh God, what should I do? Should I do the right thing and report this money, or should I risk it and run away with it?”

What do you think he should do?

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