23: THE GAME

The first day on the field (Ogboo) went well. I succeeded in making more sales.
John was nice to me. He was my master.

At a stage, I started selling for others too. I had no money to start my own and the little I was making from the sales went into food and calls.
Time to pay us our monthly allowance was a few days away. I had hoped to use the 200 euro I will receive to buy 50grams and tie them in satchets.

I would go down when nobody was there even in the night.
I started making my own customers too, giving out my numbers and telling them my name. They liked me a lot because I was the only person who would attend to them in the night, even after midnights.

Sometimes customers would call John or Jordan or anyone, if they were not around, they would call me to attend to the customers.

My outfield name was Millo. No one dared used his real name there.
In less than a week, My popularity had risen from an amateur to an all-time-available Millo. I would go down anytime of the night to attend to customers who had called my number.

Sometimes the customers who didn’t have our phone numbers would whistle with his or her mouth. We would hear them from the HEIM and go down to attend to them.

The lazy Camerounian who shared the room with me had seen the improvements. I now cook small egusi soup with two chickens. (a full Chicken was 1 euro anyway)
Unfortunately for him, the older Camerounians in our HEIM had no courage to deal on drugs like their Nigerian counterparts.
All they do each day was to drink cheap beers. Fortunately for them, Germans were the highest producers of beer, so it made the products very cheap in the country.
A can of beer was two times cheaper than its water equivalent.
Water was the real deal.

Rumour had it that the German rivers and lakes were poisoned during the second world war against Hitler.

*I didn’t care anyway, the tap was so neat. I figured that since we can swim and cook with the water, it wasn’t that dangerous. I started drinking it. I believed that no matter how dangerous natural water could be, it will never be as dangerous as whiskey irrespective of what anybody think.
There was no way Germans with their science and technology must not have found a solution to what happened in 1943-1945.*

The business continued as usual. I eventually started saving some small money.
Sometimes I would calculate my money and mentally change them in naira. Euro was hovering between 180 and 185 naira.
Two hundred euros amounted to almost 40,000 naira. That was a serious money To a poor Nigerian.

The Day of our allowances came. The Day was like a party day. All the people who had been posted to our HEIM had returned to collect their money.
More than half of our HEIM occupants usually left to the big cities. Some went to Berlin, Munchen, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Hamburg etc. Just like the way I had left to Essen.
A night before the payment, the HEIM was full. Music was blasting, the kitchen was busy. The Camerounians were drinking while the Pakistani and Indians were baking their flour food. The Biafrans were busy with their business.
The major reason for the mass return was to let the authorities know that you were still living in Germany. It was said that if one misses the monthly allowances twice, the authorities will council out his/her name and arrest him/her whenever they returned.
The following morning, we all assembled in front of the HEIM, names were called. When I heard my name, I went into the office with my Ausweiss.

I had collected my Ausweiss a day after I returned to HEIM. The German police had seized it in Essen and sent it back to the HEIM. I was warned not to venture outside the state again or I would pay 40euros each time they caught me.

I received my own payment. It was a schein. A kind of food stamp. We were required to use it in the local markets. It was a plan devised by the authorities to prevent people from leaving the HEIM. The bad news was that we couldn’t use the HEIM outside the City.

The good news was that the local traders from Turkey and elsewhere would buy the schein from us at a cut prize. A 200euro schein sold at 180euros.

I sold my own schein too.
These payments happened at the end of every month. January payment would be given to us between December 28 and 30th.
That was when the Germans who lived on social security got paid too.

So much money was circulating around during that period. The Germans who used to buy 20 euro weeds increased to 50euros etc.

I had no goods of my own, so I helped Johnson sell his own.
When we got back in the evening, Johnson said he was going to Berlin to buy goods the next day. He offered to take me along. He asked me how much money I had saved, I told him I had 300 euros. He took it from me and added it to the one we were going to travel with the next day.

I went back to my room and enjoyed some beer.

Agnes, my first love in camp had also returned for her own allowance. After the payment, we went to the mall together and bought food items. She wanted to sleep over before going back to Berlin. I gave her some money to buy recharge cards. She was pleased but the atmosphere between us was still awkward. I had no desire to tell her about love. I wanted things to be as casual as it were at that time.
(I miss that girl)

She called me when she finished cooking. It was some kind of sauce with white rice. She asked how life was going on with me. She was caring.
According to her, she had somehow ran into John the bighead, my number one enemy in asylum Camp.
They had exchanged numbers and they were dating each other.
I was a little jealous, not because Agnes was dating someone but because it was the Bighead of all people.
I didn’t give it much thought. I was a man on a mission. Mission to make money and move around the World freely like a bird.
The last thing I wanted was a woman to hold me down;
Not Agnes,
Not Awiti,
Not Nnenna,
Not Mary and definitely
Not Melinda.

I had only one person in mind. Efuah, she was with my child.

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