Luck or lack of it comes in different forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of a pretty lady you meet during your close friend’s wedding.
Zainab was the friendly and chatty but unimposing type. I didn’t appreciate her friendliness at first, but the more she spoke, the more I became acquainted with her humor, she had that kind of effect.
She did not only have an alluring personality she also looked like riches, it drew the ladies to her like a moth. Her father had to be someone, no questions asked.
I noticed she was different. She acted different, she dressed different (she wore no asoebi, in it’s place was a lace that could rival the brides) and she spoke different. I’ll ask Anisa, the bride where she knew her from, I mentally noted.
It wasn’t long before it was clear that Zainab was a resilient entrepreneur and even has blood relations with the Dangote’s, she had a picture of her with a group of women at Halima Dangote’s wedding as backing. She was a little perfect woman in her perfect world and I could see a reflection of my awe and envy in the eyes of the other brides friends.
‘All these business women be intimidating us with their big life’ Our friend Amma said after we had snapped over 50 glorious pictures on Zainab’s IPhone XS Max. I nudged her with my elbow. Amma is the I-say-whatever-is-on-my-mind-and-i-don’t-care-what-you-think type.
‘It’s true now’. She said as she munched on a cake. ‘Which business do you even do like this. Because I feel it in my veins that I will soon become rich too. Let’s gist rich girl to potential rich girl’.
Zainab threw her head back and laughed heartily. She wasn’t at all pompous or offended by Amma’s innocently careless words.
‘I see it too honestly. You have the look of a great entrepreneur in your eyes. Always searching for new opportunities’.
What Amma? The makings of a great entrepreneur as untactical as she was? Call me Bill Gates.
Amma turned and smirked at me. She had already started playing rich. Not one to be left behind especially since there’s a prospect that the secret to Zainab’s riches were about to be leaked and I could also have a chance to connect with this Dangote blooded woman, I also scouted closer and opened my ears.
‘I deal with everything a woman may need ranging from lingerie, to kitchen stuff, to adornment, to furniture to clothings, to beddings… just say woman and I’m here. Sometimes I venture into houses, cars and electronics’.
I looked her over. She didn’t look stressed out at all. She looked like ‘yar hutu, a typical spoilt child who cannot do a days work to save her life.
‘How do you manage all that?’ Aisha asked. Zainab’s audience had multiplied to 5 and I hadn’t even noticed.
‘I have connections on both ends, the sellers and the buyers. You think I source for all those goods myself?’ She said with a small smile, scanned our eyes to make sure we were fitfully entranced, then continued, this time dropping big names that usually ended with Dangote, Dantata, Indimi, Dankabo, Chachangi and Azman.
‘Anty…. is a dealer for Prestige products while Uncle…. has a huge shop filled with the latest Super Waxes, Anty…. is into cosmetics , Brother… has a car company, …. is into real estate ‘. Names and money rolled off her lips like they meant nothing. In my mind all could think was I want to be like you when I grow up.
‘So what I do is called drop-shipping. I advertise for them, get a buyer, send them the money, hold my commission and have the product delivered to the buyer, ’. Easy peasy.
‘Wow!’ I breathed out. No wonder! ‘So you are like the marketer, advertiser and middle man all in one?’.
‘Exactly. It will fit you’. She said while regarding me. I practically glowed, I knew I had a sleeping entrepreneurial streak in me. Wakey wakey.
‘So if you are interested I could hook you up with them. I could deal directly with you but I honestly am so busy with what’s on my plate. I’ll just give you their numbers and vice versa, you see what they sell, negotiate your commission and you advertise. They usually don’t care how much you add to the price as long as you sell’.
‘Sign me up!’ Aisha said with a raised hand. Aisha is over ambitious, I bet she can sell a house in a few days just so she can have money and belong to the riches crew.
‘I’m definitely interested’ Ibtisam declared. I rolled my eyes. Ibtisam is only interested because she can have contacts of men from big families, she is currently actively husband hunting. Which may not be such a bad idea.
So that was how 7 of us got into drop-shipping with Zainab, kin of the Dantatas.
I was so excited. Especially when I started communicating with the big named, big business people who always spoke busily like you were interrupting a million dollar sale so you have to round off quickly with whatever you were saying.
The first I spoke to Muhammad Tijjani Dantata, my insides became a puddle. His tush tone and polished British English just flew away with me. I was calling him husband in my head.
I got my first customers the first week. Everything went according to plan. Shoes,bags, makeup stuff were delivered within a few days of transaction and I got some money from it. I didn’t even spend a kobo. I just took my profit, sent the money and the goods were delivered. I started aiming higher especially since Aisha just sold a TV.
Soon, we were all actively seeking bigger things, bigger commission. Aisha was negotiating a car sale, I couldn’t be left behind. My brother-in-law wanted to buy a new car, he had finally decided to change his tired looking car and my sister suggested my services. See me, my family members have moved from mocking to patronizing me. Money is good.
Then my boss wanted to get a house for his newest bride -to-be and he fell in love with houses up for sale. And that was how I was head locked in a car and house deal. Ecstasy had nothing on my happiness.
The prices where very good. My commission was enough to get me second hand small car and the customers were happy. My boss had gone to see the house with an agent, it was perfect.
I sent the deposits of the money, millions of naira and the car was on it’s way, my boss’s house was sold.
I called Amma and I swear I could smell her jealousy through the phone. It was my turn to smirk. She had ordered for her cousins entire kitchen utensils including some electronics. It was huge money but it wasn’t hefty millions of Naira worth of house.
My bother-in-law called me a week later.
‘Has your car arrived?’ I asked him excitedly.
‘That’s what I wanted to ask. I’m yet to get it. They said 4 days max’.
‘Okay I’ll call them’ I said and rolled my eyes. He is such a nag.
I called the car dealers office. They said the rains had made them stall off the delivery from Lagos. But it’s on the way.
Barely 5 minutes later, Aisha called me. The car she had finished all negotiations and payments on 3 weeks ago is yet to come. Zainab is not picking her calls and she sounded like she was in tears.
My heart skipped a beat. Worry not…breathe…false alarm. I tried Zainab’s number, she assured me that everything was under control and Aisha was unnecessarily panicking. I breathed. I knew there was no cause for alarm.
I called Aisha and told her what Zainab said. She was silent for a while.
‘Have you spoken to Amma?’ She asked.
‘No, what happened?’.
‘Her cousins wedding is in two weeks time and the kitchen stuff has not been delivered.’ Aisha said and sniffed. I was momentarily blank, then confusion rolled in and fear eventually bubbled.
I felt faint, like the ground I was on was paper thin and It could cave in right away.
‘Ibtisam and Fatima have not received any response either’. Aisha’s words buzzed around my head.
Before I could say a word Aisha continued ‘I called Anisa and asked her if she could get through to Zainab and she said she had never seen her in her life. She said she thought Zainab came with you because you came in at the same time’.
She’s fraud Ummi, Zainab is fraud and we just entered one chance’.
It was too much, the phone was burning my fingers like her words had caught fire.
I threw the phone on the ground like it was the source of my confusion. I could hear it ring but I couldn’t move to answer it.
An hour later, maybe less, I picked the phone up still dazed. My boss had left 12 missed calls and a message. ‘The house you sold to me is currently occupied by people claiming to be the owners. CALL ME ASAP’.
‘No!’ A whimper escaped from my throat. No this is impossible. I couldn’t even cry real tears, tears, it turns out are a privilege.
I sat huddled up in a corner, dialling Zainabs number, I knew the response I’ll receive ‘Number is currently switched off’. And I understood, there and then, I understood why people will want to take their own lives.