Kingsley woke up. The alarm was quite loud.
It was a cloudy, humid, Summer day. Kingsley hated such days. In addition to depressing him, they suffocated him as well. For he could not venture out of his shack on such days. Not because it was cloudy and humid, but because he was a wanted man.
He switched on his old desktop machine and waited for the Windows to load. Windows 98. Kingsley has been using ‘Ol Win 98 for about a decade now. He had no other option.
The screen lit up as the machine chugged to life. He waited patiently for each icon to load – they all seemed to take a lifetime. To load. He leaned his plastic chair back on two legs, still staring at the screen.
“Ping!”, Yahoo! Messenger popped on. Internet was still available. Kingsley sighed in relief.
He double-clicked on the IE icon and waited again for the webpage to load. Waiting was something he was getting quite adept at. And eventually the loading happened, with Yahoo! Mail, his chosen homepage in sharp relief.
Kingsley checked his mailbox. 4 new mails. He felt something flutter within him. Something he thought had died a while ago. Hope.
One by one, he read all 4 messages. And slowly but surely, the bird of hope within him died once more. All 4 e-mails said the same thing, in various euphemistic and not-so-euphemistic terms.
Morris had turned up by mid-day. His incessant knocking continued until the battle-scarred wooden door came almost off its hinges, and it was only then than Kingsley slouched off to open the door for Morris.
“No news?” Morris entered the single-room shack with the white-washed walls, the tiny bed and the table with an old desktop on it. His inevitable question. No news?
“Not yet. But I’m hopeful. Something might turn up.”
Morris sighed as he sat down on the bed. He was carrying a packet wrapped in old newspapers. Kingsley remained standing.
“I wish we could do something, Kiko. You have been hiding here for almost a year now, and the SSS has not given up. Nor will they ever give up. You are one target they would chase until they die exhausted.”
Kingsley looked up at the old man, at his bearded face which used to break into wrinkles when he ran after young Kingsley in the palace, calling him “Kiko…Kiko”… Those memories belonged to the past. A past to which he could never return.
“I can hide here for all life long, that does not bother me. But I still carry some hope. Someone, somewhere is bound to turn up”, Kingsley’s eyes wandered over to his computer, still humming as it stayed connected to the internet. His only connection aside of Morris, to the world outside his shack.
“The money would get me out of here, Morris. I could go to Europe, maybe to America… I could live as a free man! Far from this evil land and its evil rulers”, his words trembled in excitement and hope.
Morris sighed again and kept the packet of food on the bed. This contained Kingsley’s two daily meals. The man had eaten all his meals in this fashion since his past life ended and the present one began, a hidden life confined in a shack.
With one last look at the young man trapped in his meaningless existence, Morris left the shack.
“Open the door! Thud! Thud! Thud!”
The burly man in uniform knocked on the wooden door for the third time. And there was no response yet.
The late afternoon heat was sweltering. He wiped his sweating hands on his uniform sleeve and tried one last time.
“Open up! This is the State Security Service! Thud Thud!”
The door creaked, but remained closed.
The burly man shrugged at his similarly-built companion in a similarly-stitched uniform, standing besides him, in a strangely similar posture. On the count of three, the two burly men drove their tank-like arms into the door, neatly breaking the wooden structure, the pieces of which clattered to the floor one after the other.
The men rushed into the shack in combat mode, but that was hardly necessary. Their prey was seated calmly next to his computer, staring at the screen, apparently oblivious to the happenings around him.
“Kingsley Oduamadi?”, the first burly man had his blood-traded machine gun aimed directly at the seated man’s forehead.
The man did not respond, but continued staring at the blank screen, and at the reflections of the men behind him. His eyes wore a glazed expression.
The second burly man had begun ransacking the room by then, and it did not take him long to find what he was looking for. A photograph, faded with age, but clearly showing the smiling faces of the two men in it, dressed in royal robes.
“It’s him”, shouted the second burly man, with barely suppressed glee, “We’ve got the prince.”
The first burly man let loose a quickly stifled whoop and lifted the seated man out of his seat using a single hand, the other still clutching his machine gun.
Kingsley put up no fight and even as the two burly men led him out of the shack, his eyes remained focus on the far end of his computer screen. On the small Y! icon which would light up upon receiving a new mail.
Kingsley’s hands were cuffed and he was roughly pushed into the back of a jeep, where the second burly man joined him. The first burly man went behind the wheel, and seated next to him on the passenger’s side was a foreigner. He was well-dressed, Asian and seemed somewhat out of place in a dusty jeep in Africa.
“This is your man Mr. Goopta”, the first burly man spoke out loud to the well-dressed Asian as the jeep roared to life, “You can tell your people in India that we have caught the man behind the scam. And we are grateful to your computer people who traced this rogue down. Criminals like him shame our proud country.”
Kingsley looked strangely at the balding Indian man seated ahead of him and then at the second burly man, who wore a thin little smile, almost a smirk.
Kingsley knew that the second burly man was not smirking at him, but at the foreigner, for not knowing that there were indeed real Nigerian princes.
Old Morris stayed hidden behind the shack as he watched the jeep disappear in a trail of dust, carrying the last of the Oduamadi royals in it. The young man who would undoubtedly meet the same fate that had befallen his father – death at the hands of the President, whose sole ambition was the extermination of every royal clan in Nigeria.
And the riches of Kingsley’s family would stay useless in a Swiss bank far, far away.
(This of course, is my take on the famous ‘Nigerian prince’ scam of which several variations have plagued mailboxes in the last decade or so. References are this and this. The title has a double meaning too – it could be interpreted as the English ‘Real’, signifying the plot-point that Kingsley is a real prince and not a scam artist, or it could be read as the Spanish ‘Real’, meaning ‘Royal’.)