Hello Folks! Today’s story continuation is a bit delayed but I made it slightly longer to compensate for the long wait. As usual, you should start the story from the first part downstairs before continuing here. No? *Shrugs* Enjoy anyway!
The very next question made all the earlier ones look like wonderland. I was forced to smile as I was asked what American state Michael Jackson was from.
The silence in the studio was deafening. I had never felt so small. The question on Michael Jackson was a fair one. He was my childhood idol after all and possibly the greatest musician to have ever lived. His recent death had no doubt splashed his biography all over the news but I, of course, had been too busy watching Rihanna ask me what her name was to bother to watch the news. Was it Massachusetts? Or Philadelphia? Or maybe even New York? It didn’t seem like Indiana was it? I was wondering whether I would have to use my last lifeline when I realized that this was the least risky stage of the game. Just above the 2nd guaranteed level, I would lose nothing by a wrong answer since I had won no more than what was guaranteed anyway. This would have to be an outright guess.
Somehow, the fact that I wouldn’t use a lifeline spiked my heart rate. Femi, to his credit, didn’t rush me. (I learned afterwards that the show was edited to screening time length). I then understood why I had been asked to sign a medical statement before coming on the show. My blood vessels were almost jumping out of my neck completely. I shifted my weight on the chair and put my hand in my chin, appearing to concentrate very hard. I sensed that no one was fooled though. The crowd started showing signs of restlessness. I had to give an answer.
So I picked Indiana. I had absolutely no reason to pick that option. If I failed it, I would just sneak home humbled and quiet. So, I wasn’t surprised when Femi told me I had failed the question.
As he said he was sorry, the lights and music came on to signal applause from the audience! Femi was stretching his hand in congratulations. I was looking dejected. But everyone was happy. What was this?! Even Mama Ibeji looked even more overjoyed. Were they actually happy to see me leave?! What was…..?!!
I was being presented with a cheque for the amount double what I had won at the guaranteed level. What happened? Oh! I had got the answer right? It could not be but it was. Till now, I don’t understand how my brain switched off and convinced me that Femi said I had failed it. Maybe I was in a state of altered consciousness. Surprised and happy at the “turn of events”, I braced myself and waited for the next question. This would be the million naira question.
It was about the day Murtala Mohammed was assassinated. I was immediately lambasted with permutations of Fridays and 13ths and Months and years. I put my mind to work. Obasanjo had taken over from this man and handed over to the uncharismatic Shagari in 1979, three years after struggling to complete the legacies of his popular predecessor. That left me with 3 options in 1976. Two of them were Fridays. The term Black Friday was floating around in my subconscious. Was it a term used to refer to the sad day when the popular Murtala had been killed? I could call my uncle for this one, but I still felt I could handle it. One of the Fridays was a 13th. The 13th of February, 1976. As I looked hard at it I wondered what the odds were that a Friday 13th would be such an unlucky day for Nigeria as a nation. Why not? It must have been a very black, unlucky Friday to impress the term Black Friday on Nigeria as a whole and on me when I had not even been born then. I decided to go for that option.
Femi immediately asked me if I was certain. By his body language, he was trying to make it snappy. I was alarmed. I wondered whether to read this as positive or negative. Was he happy I had picked the right answer? Or he just wanted to save money for the sponsors of the show and escort me out with less than a million naira? I became unsure. However when he asked if that was my last answer, I heard a voice that sounded like mine say yes. Then Femi took the opportunity to call for a commercial break. I had not heard if I was right or wrong.
I began laughing uncontrollably. It had always been my unusual response to stress. At this point, I was allowed to go to the toilet to ease myself. I didn’t feel pressed until I stood up. The urge to pee was so overwhelming but since I had been sitting down, I wasn’t aware of it. In the extreme stress, I could have peed in my pants right in front of everyone! Where would I have hidden my face then?! Aliyu would have spread the news amongst my many friends even if that part had been edited from the screening. Not that I even had any spare trousers to change into. Ah, that was a smart move by Femi to prevent guests from being embarrassed on stage. I ran to the toilet and returned smiling. I was falling for the charms of this host.
When the answer was announced I was right. Major General Murtala Mohammed had been assassinated on Friday, the 13th of February, 1976 in a military coup. The hall went wild! I was now the proud owner of one million naira.
I was the first ever millionaire from my village. A sudden realization dawned on me of all the things I could do with one million naira in Nigeria. My creativity quadrupled as wild and fantastic ideas came to my mind of how to spend this money or make it grow! I now understood why poor people always seemed dull. They were limited in their thinking to only projects that they felt they had the money to handle! Suddenly, it seemed as though there were a million ways to spend a million naira.
Would I pay my tithe? I had never given that much money to the church. The figure would have 5 whole zeroes behind it! I secretly wished this show could remain a secret from my pastor, who no doubt would be calculating his own share of my booty when the programme was finally aired. I felt like running away from church to some unknown location to spend my million(s) in peace! Now, my million would be reduced to 900, 000. That amount was nowhere as rhythmic as 1,000,000!!! I remembered that my thoughts were supposed to be known by God and felt awkward. Anyway, maybe I could win more and the total amount coming to me would be over a million.
I was listening to the 2 million naira question now. The more I listened, the more protective I grew over my 1 million naira nest egg. The guaranteed sum of 250,000 (or the price of 2 iPads) seemed insulting now. I would run out of here at the slightest hint of a threat with my one million intact, come hell or high water!
To be Continued