“Everybody get on the floor right now and shut up,” the robber yelled as he stormed into Papa Ada’s house. Following behind him were two other men, wearing masks and swinging machine guns in their hands.
Papa Ada, the man of the house, had been arguing with his wife, Anita, when the robbers entered. He cut the argument short, got on the floor immediately and flung his hands over his head. Anita did the same, flying on the floor with her palms pressed together, as if she was diving into a river.
The robber standing in the middle, who appeared to be the head of the gang, called his accomplices and whispered instructions into their ears. Then both accomplices went round the house, opening and slamming doors, and searching every room as if they were looking for something they had kept there. They then returned with four young-adult children, and pushed them to the floor.
“If anyone moves or says a single word, we will kill you all,” the leader threatened.
Papa Ada shook as if he had been thrown into a chest freezer, almost wetting his trousers. To make things worse, his bladder felt like it was going to burst open.
As he lay on the floor, he worried that the thieves would ask for money and that he would have to bring out the two million naira he had hidden in the springs, under his bed. Not even his wife Anita knew about the money. He had told her that he hadn’t a kobo on him, and it was the same thing he had been telling her for the past twenty-five years, even though he went out drinking every night.
On this particular night, Papa Ada had returned home just a few minutes after three in the morning, shortly before the masked men stormed in. He made a mental note to lock up the gate man, Adamu, and the houseboy, Gabriel, for leaving the gate and house door open for too long, allowing the armed robbers free entry.
Papa Ada looked at his children, noticing that one of them was missing — his first son, Godspower, wasn’t there. He lowered his head to his wife, and asked, “Where’s GP?”
Anita hissed. “If you paid more attention to your family, you would know that GP has been in school for the last three months.”
“I said shut up,” the lead thief yelled, hitting Papa Ada on the head with his gun.
Papa Ada almost passed out, but somehow, he managed to still be awake. He wanted to tell the thief that his wife had also spoken, and that she too deserved a whack on her head. Instead, he kept his mouth shut.
“Go and bring out the money,” the lead thief said to Papa Ada.
Papa Ada cleared his throat. “What mo—”
Before Papa Ada could complete his question, he felt the base of the lead thief’s gun collide with the back of his head. This time, Papa Ada saw shooting stars.
“I will not repeat myself,” the lead thief said, gesturing to hit Papa Ada again.
Papa Ada, still dizzy, raised his hands. “I will bring all the money. I will bring everything,” he stammered.
Papa Ada had never been known for his generosity, simply because he was never generous. He made a lot of money working for the government, but despite his wealth, he only spent his money on isiewu and beer. Occasionally he would buy nkwobi, or spend it on young girls.
He hardly ever stayed at home, which brought about his nickname – Invisible Daddy. His three youngest children, although they lived in the same house, had heard stories about him, but they hardly ever saw him. Anita wondered why the Invisible Daddy hadn’t attempted to run away yet, and leave his family at the mercy of the robbers. At the same time, Papa Ada wondered why he wasn’t truly invisible, as his nickname suggested, because he would have already disappeared and gone back to the beer parlor, where he had been having a nice time.
The gang members watched the family, while the lead thief followed Papa Ada into his bedroom, and popped his eyes wide open as Papa Ada pulled out the two million naira. Papa Ada started to feel regret. He didn’t regret not giving the money to Anita to shop for herself and the kids. He regretted not dividing the money and hiding it in several places. He wouldn’t have had to give it all away at once.
After Papa Ada had given the thief the money, he was locked in his room and told to remain there. Later, after the thieves had made off, his wife unlocked the door.
Papa Ada stormed out of the bedroom, yelling the names of his gateman and houseboy. “Adamu! Gabriel!” He paused a bit. “Where are those idiots?”
Anita was holding her children, who were shaken up, then eyed Papa Ada up and down. “So you had money in this house and you refused to give us anything?”
Papa Ada ignored her, and continued yelling. “Adamu, Gabriel… Adamu, Gabriel, oh!”
“You are a wicked man,” Anita continued. “And the Lord I serve has punished you.”
“Then why don’t you go and share the money with your Lord.” Papa Ada hissed. “Where are those fools? Are they deaf, or have they been killed? Adamu? Gabriel!”
Anita let out a prolonged hiss, then went into her room with her children, scrunching her face, and murmuring what sounded like curses on Papa Ada.
Adamu and Gabriel ran into the house shortly after, looking like they had been dragged through a forest, dirty, bruised and sweaty. Papa Ada knew that they had received their own share of the robbery visit, but it didn’t stop him from punishing them. Had Adamu locked the gate immediately Papa Ada entered, and Gabriel locked the house door on time, Papa Ada would still have his money.
Papa Ada looked back and forth at them. “Both of you are going to pay me my money back, one way or another.”
The next day, the thieves met in a small office to share the money. Joining them were Anita and her four children. Also waiting were Adamu and Gabriel.
Anita stood up and smiled, then went to hug the lead thief. “Godspower, my son. You were extremely brilliant yesterday, even your siblings are very proud of you.”