(A room in a hotel. The room is in total disarray: an unmade single bed, some items of clothing all about the place, a box of clothes kept open on the bed, a fallen dining chair and a small vase of artificial flowers, and stiletto shoes on a settee. A man of middle age, dressed in white kaftan and trousers with black polished shoes and cap, enters with a cellular phone. He is obviously perplexed by the state of the room.)
middle-aged man: Chei! Nigeria is greater than Africa! What is this? I was even thinking the receptionist gave me the wrong room number. I, Alhaji Mohammed Mustapha Suleman Musa Idris, am seeing this? Allah-kiyaye!! But I am a dying man. I should not be seeing this. So this is the place she went to stay. (walks around and looks around with disgust) Hm! She still thinks she is schooling. The way I am seeing things, it must have escaped her head that she was a long-gone graduate from – what was the name of that her school? She use to call it one funny name – (thinks for a while) ah! UNIZIK!! She is a UNIZIK graduate, with a pass. At least, her mother was happy that she got out at last. We both thought that she would now settle down to a happy married life. But the minute she got out, she just disappeared! Kai!! She is an only child, o! She got that woman very worried. I looked for her everywhere. Then, as my private investigator said, all roads lead to this place. (looks around again) I just hope he is right. (looks at the box of clothes) Hm! She still thinks she is in school.
(While ALHAJI murmurs to himself and looks around, checking each scattered item of clothes, a lady wearing only a small pink towel which manages to just cover her buttocks, and a young man in a three-piece suit, enter. They talk to each other at once. ALHAJI folds his arms and watches them.)
lady: Will you stop following me! You’ve got security at every floor. (combs her hair with a weave-on brush)
young man: I just wanted to make sure that you don’t run off with the hotel’s towel, too.
lady: But you took my bikini. How was I supposed to enjoy the sunlight?
young man: There is a heat-lamp in the bathroom.
lady: Just give me one good reason why I should stay in this room.
young man: I’ll give you 2.5 million reasons.
ALHAJI: (exclaims) 2.5 million naira??
(The lady turns and is surprised to see him. Quickly, she runs to him.)
lady: Oh Mustapha! (hugs him) What are you doing here? I wasn’t expecting you.
ALHAJI: No, obviously not. Since when did I become Mustapha to you?
young man: I believe I’ve seen you at a particular conference meeting, sir. (confronts him and extends his hand) I am Architect Engineer Doctor Kundi Shepherd, the acting managing director of this wonderful Starr Hotel.
lady: (sarcastically) You mean the hotel that harbours the Bill Clintons with the Monica Lewinskys.
ALHAJI: (sternly) Halima!
HALIMA: (rudely) I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel. They treat me like a common criminal here.
SHEPHERD: Nobody has accused you of anything.
HALIMA: (excited) That means I can go?
SHEPHERD: Not yet.
HALIMA: (rudely) You see? I mean, how can one put up with an attitude like that?
SHEPHERD: It’s simple. You just pay the 2.5 million and we will let you have this room for free.
HALIMA: (relieved) Gladly! (confronts ALHAJI) Please, pay him the 2.5 million. I know you can do it, daddy.
ALHAJI: (laughs a little) Eh, no deal!
(HALIMA displays shock and turns to SHEPHERD.)
SHEPHERD: (folds his arms) Of course if you don’t pay, the hotel will be forced to take legal action.
HALIMA: (to ALHAJI) You are not going to let them send me to jail, are you?
ALHAJI: Halima, first of all, you are going to tell me just how you got yourself into this mess (holds her wrists) unless of course, you want to leave here in handcuffs. (Another pause)
HALIMA: (hesitantly) Well, you see, I was gambling and so…
SHEPHERD: Call me if you need me, sir. (exits)
(HALIMA starts to fling the scattered dresses to the bed where the box of dresses is situated.)
ALHAJI: (puts his hands behind him) So, Halima, tell me what happened.
HALIMA: (confronts him) I told you. I was gambling.
ALHAJI: Start by telling me how you got here.
HALIMA: (hesitantly) Well, you see, there was this guy I met. (goes to the bed and starts to dump the clothes into the box)
ALHAJI: (turns) Guy? (confronts her) Was he the one who talked you into coming to Lagos?
HALIMA: Well, yes, sure, why not. (still dumping clothes) We decided it together.
ALHAJI: So…where is this guy?
HALIMA: (still dumping clothes) I don’t know. He ran out almost at the same time my money did.
HALIMA: (stops momentarily) Well, you know what they say, dad. Easy come, easy go.
ALHAJI: (holds her arm) Wait a minute! You’ll have to tell me why you came to this place with this guy.
HALIMA: We came here to get married.
ALHAJI: (concerned) Oh Halima! Tell me you didn’t marry this guy. (pause)
HALIMA: Of course I didn’t marry the guy. I told you, he took off. (goes to the settee)
ALHAJI: How long have you known this guy?
HALIMA: Long enough! (goes back to the bed again)
ALHAJI: Halima, for how long? (No response. He confronts her) Miss Halima Musa Idris, for how long?
HALIMA: (exasperated) Four weeks, how was I supposed to know?
ALHAJI: (surprised) You’ve only known this guy for four weeks and you run off to Starr Hotel with him? In Victoria Island?
HALIMA: That was the place where we decided to get married. (closes the box)
ALHAJI: Why did you get involved with him in the first place if you knew he was just after your money? What happens if you discovered this after you must have married him?
HALIMA: (sarcastically) If you are giving me lectures, should I take down notes?
ALHAJI: (folds his arms) So…what are you still doing here?
HALIMA: You see, daddy, things are done much more faster here.
ALHAJI: Well, unlucky for you, not fast enough. (holds her arms) Halima…what am I going to do with you?
HALIMA: Don’t worry, daddy. I’ll pay you back the money. I’ll just have to wait until my trust fund releases some more.
ALHAJI: That’s next year.
HALIMA: (carelessly) Whenever. (goes to the settee)
ALHAJI: (confronts her) I have made a decision. For sure, you are going to pay me back, but you will have to come back to Abuja with me and work it off.
HALIMA: (utterly shocked) What??
ALHAJI: Yes, my daughter, because frankly speaking, you are going back to square one.
ALHAJI: But me no buts! I will show you that a semi-literate man like me is far better than a dumb-clot graduate like you. (goes and opens the box and throws a dress and underwear at her and points to the toilet) Go on! Get dressed! I cannot allow you to disgrace me any further than this, kiji kwo?
HALIMA: (haughtily) Daddy, this is my life, and I live it the way I want. If you can’t give me the money, simply tell me. I can always find other means of getting it.
ALHAJI: (stupefied) Abdulsamallahi!! Over my dead body!! I swear, by the village of my best friend, that I will not stand here and watch you say this. (goes and grabs her and pushes her into the toilet) Get dressed, you stupid, good-for-nothing child!! Allah-kiyaye! You will be taught a very sound lesson in a harem. (hisses and picks up the phone in the room situated at one side of the settee) Is that room service? … Call your manager for me immediately. (hangs up and sits down on the settee. After a while, HALIMA comes out dressed.) Oya, start packing your things! (HALIMA, after a moment’s hesitation, obeys him. He dials some numbers on his cellular phone.) Oya, come to Starr Hotel with the limo. I have found my runaway child. (hangs up. HALIMA hisses. ALHAJI eyes her.) Don’t worry. By the time I finish with you, you will learn to respect your father. (SHEPHERD enters. ALHAJI fishes out both a complimentary card and a chequebook from his huge kaftan pocket.)
SHEPHERD: You notified me, sir?
ALHAJI: (writes on the chequebook, cuts out a cheque and gives it to him) Alright, here is a cheque for 2.5 million naira. My daughter is checking out.
SHEPHERD: Ah, Alhaji! (takes the cheque) I was about to write a circular against collecting cheques from customers, but for you, sir, I will make an exception. (pockets the cheque)
ALHAJI: Good! Here is my card as well. (hands that to him as well)
SHEPHERD: Aw, thank you, sir. (receives it and turns to HALIMA) Please, do come again some time. You are most welcome anytime. (HALIMA hisses again and he exits.)
ALHAJI: (gets up) Oya, let’s start going. We will wait for the chauffeur outside.
(HALIMA reluctantly carries the box and leaves the room. ALHAJI follows her.)