Even though the Devil had died, Victor did not rejoice.
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble do not let your heart rejoice”. These words from the good book, Proverbs 24:17, echoed in Victor’s head. They first came to him the night he heard his boss, Chief W.O. Koko, had a heart attack and passed on.
Chief KK as he was popularly called, irreverently described himself as “the Devil”, and he was rightly so. Months of unpaid salaries, brash and derogatory comments, and firing staff for saying “Morning” instead of “Good Morning” were the norm at KK Transports Limited, a company he started with his wife, Madam Kemi.
As the procession of Chief KK’s coffin approached the altar of the cathedral, the crowd of friends, families and employees numbering close to a thousand, took their seats just as the priest mounted the podium to give his exhortation. Victor sat two rows behind the ebony brown casket. At the very first row, the mourning widow, Madam Kemi sat distraught, in black, her head down. Victor’s heart ached, he could not bear to see his Madam in that state, and he too looked down. As his head dropped down, his eyes fell on his black shoes, his first ever pair, which Madam Kemi bought for him the first day he joined the company as an Errand Boy. The shoes, a couple of months old were now poked with holes from rat bites…those rat poisons he bought were not working at all.
Madam Kemi knew her husband was wicked and she tried to make his oppression a bit bearable for the pitiful lot that worked for him.
“May your days be long ma, is only God that can reward you for this tin ave done” .Victor thanked Madam Kemi vehemently the day she slipped N5, 000 into his blistered palms. Palms dried up from neglect and hunger, they had labored for a tyrant for months without wages.
It was Madam Kemi’s angelic gestures that kept Victor, and perhaps the other unfortunate minions of KK Transport Limited, through this nightmare. Little wonder that Chief’s journey to his end began the day he battered Madam Kemi in broad day light in front of all workers.
It was raining heavily that day, and Victor had just returned to the office from one of his usual errands. He remembers the shrills coming out of Chief’s room. “Please stop!!! I beg of you”. Victor burst into the room, only to see Madam on the floor, blouse loosed, her back stained with blood. On top of her was Chief, swiping his leather belt mercilessly on her body. It had to take two hefty men to separate the warring couple. Rumor had it that both of them had an argument over the payment of salaries of staff, and Chief got livid when his wife called him “Esu”.
The priest finished his sermon and the crowd stood up as the hymn commenced. As Victor stood up, his last toe poked a hole in his shoe, a stark reminder of his poison’s ineffectiveness on the rats that troubled his one bedroom apartment…but its surprising effect on human beings. The day after Chief battered Madam Kemi, Victor decided to teach the self-acclaimed devil a lesson. “Perhaps I should make Chief realise the importance of his dear wife he battered” he thought to himself. The following day he brought to the office a sizeable amount of his rat poison. Since it didn’t kill the rats, it won’t kill Chief, but make him sick enough to teach him a lesson a two, Victor thought to himself as he doused the rat poison into Chief’s usual early morning tea.
True to his assumptions, Chief became sick. But then the illness dragged for days, weeks…until that day, in the middle of the night, when Victor got a phone call requesting his assistance in carrying Chief’s body to the mortuary as he had a heart attack and died. Speechless, Victor turned to his devotional beside his bedside, the memory verse for the day was Proverbs 24:17.
Victor had not slept properly since Chief died. He didn’t believe he killed him. It was his own wickedness that killed him, he would mutter to himself. The poison that did not kill a rat will not kill a human, he would mutter. He was convinced that Chief’s own wickedness was the final blow in the poison.
However, as a good follower the good book, he will not rejoice over the “unfortunate” incident of his enemy, he will join in mourning.