Chidi and the gamblers


“One thousand for iPhone!”

“Abioo abioo!”

“One thousand for Samsung!”

“Abioo abioo!”

“One thousand for Infinix!”

“Abioo abioo!”

The frenzied chants continued rising in crescendo as I leisurely ambled down the bustling market lane in search of the foodstuff line, at the other side of the road a small crowd had clustered at one corner in front of a closed stall. I quickly crossed the road and approached the crowd, curious to know the reason for the palpable commotion.

“With just one thousand naira you fit win iPhone!” a man in a dirty Chelsea FC jersey bellowed, clanking the heavy bell in his hand as he spoke, his bloodshot eyes were barely open as he moved around the clustered crowd with unbelievable energy.

“Abioo abioo!” the crowd enthusiastically replied.

I couldn’t believe my ears! With just one thousand I could get an iPhone for myself? My enthusiasm was however quelled by a curious thought, if this is really true, why aren’t these people rushing to partake of this man’s largesse? My doubts were immediately dispersed as a young girl stepped forward from the crowd and handed a crisp one thousand naira note to the man who collected it and placed it one top of the makeshift table (made by stacking up large cartons on top of each other). On one side of the table were assortments of smartphones; ranging from the newly released iPhone X, Samsung Galaxies, iPads and iPods. On the other side lay a deck of Whot cards.

A hush fell on the crowd as the man proceeded to pull out two cards from the deck, then turning them slowly showed it to the crowd.

“This one na star and this other one na triangle” he explained with a sly grin plastered across his face which highlighted the deep bruise that ran from his left temple down to his jaw. The veins in his arms strained against his bulging muscles as he carefully explained the rules of the game.

“You go win if you come pick the card wey be star!” he concluded, addressing the girl personally this time around.

Placing the two cards face down on the table, he now proceeded to shuffle both cards at the same time, after few minutes of rearranging the two cards, he then summoned the girl to come and pick out the star card.

“Oya come and pick, remember na only once you go pick o!” he advised, the mischevious grin still smeared on his face.

From my vantage point I had carefully and painstakingly trailed the movements of the man’s hands as he shuffled the cards and was hundred percent certain that the card on the left side of the man was the ‘Star’ card. Immediately, as if on cue, the girl reached out and picked the card on the left side of the man. The man instantly grabbed the card, looked at it, frowned for an instant and then turned the card to the full glare of the ever-increasing crowd with a smile and shouted

“Na star she pick!”

The whole crowd broke out in shout and cries of victory, one woman was already churning out a sonorous gospel melody in praise of the lord for his mighty wonders. The girl herself was ecstatic, basking in the euphoria of her unbelievable luck. I stood there befuddled and astonished at how simple and easy it was. ”Just like that and this girl has won an iPhone!” i mused, enviously eyeing the girl as she collected her prize from the man, quickly exiting through the crowd.

“One thousand for your iPhone!” The man resumed once again, unfazed as if he didn’t lose anything- that smile still on his face.

“Abioo abioo!” the crowd faithfully replied.

“Plenti people don win, wetin you dey wait for?” He continued, the jingling of the bell corresponding with every sentence.

I quickly reached inside my pocket and brought out the four thousand naira mother had given me that evening to purchase foodstuffs for our dinner, ”surely she wouldn’t be angry if i show her the iPhone i will win” i reasoned. With shoulders high and with a deep conviction of joining the iPhone club, i confidently approached the man….

To be continued

Author: Peter Oz