Once while we were watching a Nollywood movie, about a particularly wicked yet successful man who derived pleasure from torturing his family and seemed to have no one to confront him, a question came up in my mind.
Sixteen years of age and as inquisitive as they come, I squirmed and shuffled in my seat until I got my Grandpa’s attention.
Dropping the newspaper he was reading into his lap, he adjusted his glasses, cleared his throat and asked.
“What’s bothering you Ahmed?”
“Well grandpa, I have a question.”
“Why do evil people get away with everything?”
“Get away?” He sounded amused.
“Yes. They just keep being bad and they’re always rich and nobody can tell them anything and-”
“Oh Ahmed, they don’t. They always get what they deserve in the end.”
“Yes. You see, if you’re wicked, you might think you are not going to ever be made to Pat for your wickedness. But you will. Because every evil man must pay the price of evil.”
“Hmmmmmm. Grandpa, what is the price of evil?”
“Truly child, what is the price of evil? It varies, depending on the crime. Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a man who had a beautiful daughter. I say he had a beautiful daughter because that was all he had in terms of family. His wife, her mother, died several years ago in the course of childbirth, trying to bring a little sibling into the world for her daughter to play with. Complications arose during the delivery and both mother and child were lost.”
“Eeya. That’s sad.”
“I know. Life isn’t always fair. But back to our story. The man was a business man who always have to travel for his business trips. At first, he tried taking her along. But she was too young.
Then he tried getting nannies. But he didn’t trust them. He felt what she needed was a stable, sweet family. So he married a widow in that town who already had a son. To him it was the lottery in marriage. A wife for him, a mother for his daughter, and a son who would also be her playmate.
At first things were nice and cheerful. But after a few years, things changed. The step-mother became cruel to the girl. She got it into her head that one day the man would die and will off all the inheritance to his daughter. This was compounded by the fact that she was unable to bear the man a child of his own. She had become sterile.
Desperate to not be kicked out with nothing, she sought for means to ensure that her son got the lion’s share of the man’s property, but how was she to go about it? Now listen carefully child, wicked people often have a ‘good reason’ for behaving the way they do. But that’s no excuse.”
“Her first idea was to be cruel to the girl, hoping she wouldn’t be able to take it anymore and she would run away. That way she would be rid of her and her son’s future would be ‘secure’ so anytime the man travelled, she would beat her, order her around and generally make life uncomfortable for her.
But the girl, sweet and mild mannered, persevered. She took the beatings and harshness without complaint. If course when her father returned from his trips, her step-mother was automatically nice to her again. There was no way her father would believe if she reported the true state of things to him, so content in the belief that ‘nothing lasts forever’ she kept quiet and endured it all.
Her only respite was school, and the church.
Time passed and the girl grew into an exceedingly beautiful lady. Then her father decided it was time to partition his property. He had always been away on one trip or the other, he knew the risks and wanted to ensure that if perchance he did not return from any of them, his family would be well-catered for. He told his idea to his wife and after warning her to tell no one, went on another trip. When he returned, he would share his property and settle down. He was wealthy enough, he reasoned and it was finally time to spend some quality time with his family.
As soon as he left, the step-mother became frantic. Despite all her efforts, she was about to lose out on everything!
She thought and thought and thought and lost sleep and weight over the issue.
Finally she made up her mind. She would poison the girl. If she was not alive she couldn’t inherit, could she?
Fixed on this, early the next morning, after breakfast, she sent both kids out to the next street to visit with their friends. Then she made a sumptuous meal and served it out. First she served a big plate of food and put a sizeable chunk of meat on it. She then sprinkled the powdered poison liberally on it, mixed it till there was no sign, and covering it, put it on the dining table with the girl’s name on a little tag beside it. The poison was odorless, tasteless and virtually untraceable. It was to be the perfect crime.
Then she served her son’s food and her food too. Just as she prepared to call the children back for their lunch, she got a phone call from her friend who was heading of to another state, but decided to drop in and check on her briefly before going.
He gave her the details of his hotel, the room he was staying in and warned her that he had only an hour to spend before leavin his journey was still long and he intended to get there before nightfall.
Wanting to see him, she rushed off, trusting that her plan would work even in her absence.
Tired of playing, it was hot and dry, and they wanted to be back home in time for a particular program, the children left their friends to return home.
Meanwhile, the business deal had closed early, so the father rushed off. He had missed his family and didn’t want to miss another hour he could otherwise spend with them. He started driving home. With a little luck, who knows? He could be home in time for lunch! His stomach rumbled and he chuckled to himself.
The children soon got home. When they saw the meals, they were surprised. Normally the girl was to be given the smaller meal. The boy, who had grown arrogant and fat declared it to be a mistake, and decided the meal with her name on it was actually his.
She protested but being physically stronger, he wrestled the plate from her before she could even have a spoon and wolfed it all down.
Since there was another meal, and it wasn’t little to begin with, she took it and ate it. Then they settled to watch their favorite TV show.
Meanwhile the step-mother was detained unduly where she went. She had liked her friend a lot and alone with him in a hotel room, one thing led to another and she slept with him. Severally. Because of this, she was unable to get home on time.
With an exchange of contact info and a promise to keep in touch, she left, three hours later.
The father got home and met the kids watching TV. He found some food left in the pot and helped himself to it.
Then he joined them in the parlor to watch TV.
When she got home, she was shocked to find her husband around. She asked the children if they had eaten their meals and they replied in the affirmative. She then asked if they are their own meals, and just as the girl was about to reply that they hadn’t, the boy pinched her on the bottom. She yelped and he quickly said that they had.
Content that it had gone smoothly, she went to her room and flushed the antidote to the poison down the drain. Then she threw the bottles away. She didn’t want any thing to link her to what had happened.
Later that night, she heard one of the children moaning softly. Thinking it was the girl, she smiled to herself in the darkness. Come daylight, she would have left the world for her and her son. The path would be clear! Finally!
The next morning, a loud wail woke wife and husband. They rushed to the children’s room and found the girl crying and trying to wake her stepbrother. He was not responding. She cried even harder, screaming his name over and over again.
Shocked at what happened, the step-mother asked the girl again
“Did you eat your own meal yesterday? I mean the meal with your name on it?”
Admist bitter tears, the girl managed to choke out no, that she had been bullied by-
The wicked step-mother put things together in her head- her sin had eaten the poisoned meal!
She made a mad dash for the room before remembering she had flushed the antidote away. From there to the drain to see if there was anything to be salvaged but alas. There was nothing.
Like a zombie she made her way to the children’s room. Her husband who had been watching her with suspicion asked what was wrong. Without thinking, she mumbled.
“He ate the poison. Her poison.”
Shocked, he sent hee ouvof the house and made arrangements to have the body disposed of. He then called the police. The policemen arrived at the same rine the ambulance came in to carry the corpse. She offered no resistance, numb and still in shock. As the medics carried her son out on a stretcher however, with a sheet covering his face it dawned on her that he was dead. Dead and gone. Something in her snapped and she slumped.
Later that day, she gave up the ghost. You see Ahmed, she paid evil’s price.”
Sooner or later, everyone who does evil, pays the price.”
Content with that explanation, I turned to watch the movie with satisfaction. And truly before the movie on the television was over, the wicked man also paid evil’s price.