Friday, August 2, 2013

The Fake Diamond. A Short Story by Sheku Sheriff


Momoh was broke, flat broke, without a cent to his name. His problems had started about a year ago when his cousin Boakai had come back from the diamond fields in Kono. While they were growing up in Nyandeyama, Boakai was generally considered a no gooder and many swore that he would not amount to much. He never concentrated on anything and was not good at much. While people were busy going to their farms in the morning, Boakai was content going around the village and down to the pond for a swim. His happiest time was the rice growing season. Not that he went to help with the backbreaking farm work, no he did not. He was however always willing to take cooked food to the farmers from town.
Diamond diggers in Sierra Leone

During the growing season, the men would usually form groups to work on each other's farms. Sometimes groups of twenty men would descend on a single farm and do all the brushing in a single day . It was touugh, backbreaking, sweaty work that usually left them very hungry. The women will stay in town cooking large pots of rice for the working men and heaping  them in very large bowls. These heavy bowls had to be transported to the men around midday, when they would have dispensed of half the day's work

It was at times like these that Boakai became very useful. In spite of his lazy nature, he had a very strong neck and was happy to carry these hot, steaming bowls of rice on clothing paddings on his head to any farm, regardless of the distance. You may wonder why he did this. Well the reason was twofold. First, the wife that was sending him on this errand first gave him a hefty plate of rice, which he gulped down quickly to give him the necessary energy to embark on his journey. Secondly, when he got to the farm he would join the farmers again when they were eating and eat until he was barely able to walk back to the village. Sometimes when farming was done in Nyandeyama, he would go to Jormu Kafeibu or Komende station to see if he could help out. The men did not care for him, but the women adored him, such was the general usefulness of Boakai.

One hot day in May, Boakai just upped and left the village. Nobody knew where he went. People were at first curious, as he had never left the village. After a month people just forgot about him as he was not of much use to anybody anyway, not even to members of his own gamily and when he left, nobody cared as his mother was very old and his father was a man with many wives, too many responsibilities and no time for a slothful son like Boakai.

One cold December morning, Momoh was lying down in a hammock on the patio of the abandoned house on the road to Potehun, listening to Amie Kallon on his small Tape Recorder when he was suddenly startled by the loud blare of music.He looked down the road and saw a male figure coming with what looked like an enormous Tape Recorder balanced craftily on his on his head. As the figure got closer, Momoh realised that it was his cousin Boakai, but what a change! Boakai was wearing brand new shoes, brand new clothes and carrying a big and heavy brand new bag strapped on his shoulder. He had a brand new 10 battery tape recorder that was blasting, Steady Bongo's  "Haja Watta" at full volume.

Momoh could not believe his eyes. It was not only the clothes; Boakai was looking younger, definitely more handsome and fresher than he had ever seen him. He rushed from the hammock and went and hugged his cousin, taking the big tape recorder from his head and helping him carry it. The two were very happy to see each other.

 "Brother Bock!" "M O!" They screamed, embracing each other again.

Momoh said, " Man, I am very happy to see you. Where have you been? everybody has been worried about you," Momoh said, which was obviously a lie as only the women who needed rice to be transported to farms ever thought of him.

"Its a long story, I will tell you all about it later" Boakai replied. "Help me carry these things home"

The noise and commotion brought people out and soon there were shouts of "Boakai! Boakai! Boakai!" all over the viillage. The news soon spread around the village that Boakai had come back looking like a "money man." Momoh took Boakai home and left him with his mother, who was so happy to see her once good for nothing son looking so changed that she just kept on crying for joy. Momoh told Boakai to meet him later at the abandoned house as there were so many people around that they could not say anything much. He told him to take the big Tape recorder to the abandoned house and he would meet him there later.

Momoh took the tape recorder to the abandoned house, took the Amie Kallon tape out of his own small excuse for a tape recorder, and put it in Boakai's boom box and played it full volume. Amie Kallon never sounded better!

About three hours later, Boakai came to the abandoned house to his cousin. "Man, I had to run away from all those people. It is like they have never seen me before"

"What do you expect Bock? Man you look changed, you look as fresh as a politician,  now tell me your story?" Momoh entreated.

Boakai said "Do you remember those tailors that came here over Christmas last year"

"Yes," Momoh replied.

"Well I got talking to one of them who told me I am wasting my time here and I could go to Kono and make good money mining diamonds. Well I took his advice. I did not tell anybody when I was going as I did not want people to discourage me. You know people in these village thought I was an idler, but I just don't like farm work. The same work every year, and it does not make anybody rich. I also wanted to travel. To cut a long story short, things were at first difficult in Kono, but last month we dug a pit that was a spot. Everybody in my team made it. I got enough money to buy all these things and I have already bought a bicycle. I am not going back. I will be using my bicycle to buy palm oil and produce to take to Kenema and sell. Brother I have made it. I bought two shoes and these clothes for you as you are my best cousin."

"Thanks brother Bock" Momoh said. "I could not have asked for anything better this Christmas, you are a real brother."

"M O, you are young and strong. I advise you to give it a try. If you fail you may always come back to Nyandeyama. Look at it this way, you have nothing to lose.

Over the coming months, Momoh gave his cousin's advice considerable thought. Afterwards, as Boakai had said, he had nothing to lose. Look at the way the people treated Boakai now. Everybody gave him so much respect. He could not believe people that this was the same Boakai who they had been calling a good for nothing fool only a short time ago. He was now a successful business man, buying cola nuts, palm oil, cocoa, coffee, and rice to sell in Kenema. Just in four months he had bought a brand new Honda 70 and had given his bicycle to his younger brother. Momoh decided that as soon as he had helped his father build their farm hut, he was going to escape from this suffering to go to Kono. Given how hardworking he was, he thought he could even do better than Boakai.

So as soon as the farm work was done, he left. People were not surprised however, as he had changed, becoming withdrawn and uncommunicative since Boakai came back from Kono. Many old people looked at him and knew that there was nothing wrong with him, he was just consumed with envy.

Six months later Momoh was in Kone and he was broke, so broke that he could barely find food to eat. Since coming to Kono six months ago, he had worked his tail off, all in vain. He had not even seen a single diamond. Other diggers started to avoid him. In the diamond fields, if other diggers realised that another was particularly unlucky, they avoided him. The last thing any digger wanted was to have someone else's curse or bad luck rub off on them. People whispered behind Momoh's back that he was cursed and groups started to avoid him. He started digging on his own, but this was not a one man's job. Sometimes he would dig a pit the whole day, come back to it in the morning and find out that others had come behind him in the night and washed all his gravel. He became broke, frustrated and depressed.

One day another miner came to him and said, " Boy, let me be honest with you. this is not your job. Everybody knows that you have bad luck and do not want to team with you. Why not try to sell a "corundor" to somebody who does not know about diamond business and go back to your village."

"Corundors" are small stones usually found in diamond gravels that are very similar to diamonds, but are worthless beautiful stones. The thing is that people who have little knowledge of diamonds find it hard to distinguish between a corundor and the real thing. Momoh of course had all his problems, but he had always been a honest, God fearing youth, and no amount of hard time was going to change this.

Few months went by and Momoh's luck was still down. No diamonds, no money, little food. All his clothes were worn out and were now in tatters. He had no friends and nothing. The old man whose house he had been staying in heard about his hard luck and asked him to give up his room. "My son is coming home for the holidays, he has to use this room. Take your things out, clean it and handover the keys on Saturday."
Tough Work

Momoh went to his pit the next morning; heartbroken, destitute and hungry. While he was shaking his gravel he saw a bright flash. His heart leapt into his mouth, he took out a big stone probably about four carats. With trembling hands he washed the clay off the stone, his heart pounding, it was a damn bloody corundor! He was so disappointed that he sat down and burst into tears.

But however, the stone was so diamond-like that even new diggers would be fooled. He decided to keep it. He was so disappointed that he no longer had any energy to continue digging. He packed his shaker, spade and pickaxe and headed back home.When he got home, his old landlord called him and said his son had decided to come back earlier. Actually, the next day and he wanted Momoh out by the end of the day. Momoh appealed in vain. The old man would not budge, he wanted him out.

Momoh went to the back of the house, held his head in his hands and wept. He was hungry and homeless in this God forsaken place. While he was crying, the corundor fell out of his pocket. Looking at it, an idea suddenly formed in his mind. What if, just what if a sucker could fall for this worthless stone being a diamond. He was honest, but he was also hungry. Surely, God would forgive him. It would be better than dying. He could always repent. Afterwards the good book said that those who sincerely repented would be forgiven. He would sell this corundor to some fool and spend a whole month just on repenting. He packed the few things he had and went to Koidu town.

While walking down the Tankoro roundabout he saw this very big car packed. The owner was sitting in the back waiting for somebody it seemed. He did not resemble a diamond buyer. This was the type of person he was looking for. A rich person who had no clue about diamonds. No Fulas or Marakas. Those people could tell a diamond only by smelling it, they were that good. Momoh walked fearfully up to the man in the car and asked. "Do you want a diamond?"

"What do you have?" The man asked. Momoh nearly said a corundor, but caught himself just in time. "about 4 carats," Momoh said.

"You must be joking," The man said
"No I'm not," Momoh replied. he fearfully took out the corundor and showed it to the man in the big black Mercedes 240D.

The man's eyes grew wide and his mouth fell open in awe. With trembling hands he took the beautiful stone, which flashed majestically in the waning light. "Does anybody know about it? He asked.

"No" Momoh said.

"How much do you want for it?" The man asked

Momoh thought about this for a moment. "Fifteen thousand dollars," He said.

"What about ten?" The man said. "What a sucker" Momoh thought.

"OK, thirteen thousand, and that is my last price or I will take it some where else"

"No, that's a deal. I do not have the cash with me now, but I will give you one thousand dollars cash and now and a check for twelve thousand."

Momoh could not believe his ears, even the one thousand dollars cash was enough to realize all his dreams. The well dressed man told him his name was Babatunde Omolaye, from Rivers State in Nigeria and it was nice doing business with Momoh and he prayed they meet again.

The village boy took the ten crisp brand new hundred dollar bills and a check for twelve thosand dollar. He rushed home sold his shaker, spade and pickaxe to his land lord, threw all his old clothes in the trash and caught the last Van leaving from Koidu to Kenema.

The next day he took the check to Commercial bank, where he was informed by the cashier that the check was a fake and if he did not leave the premises he was going to call the police. Disappointed he went to the Foreign exchange bureau to change a hundred dollars to leones and do some shopping. When he went there he was informed that the hundred dollar bill was a fake and while the owner took out his cellphone to call the police, Momoh ran out of the building with tears streaming down his face.

He begged a driver to give him a ride to Nyandeyama, pledging that his father will pay and thought about how a minor faker like him, had been faked big time!

Sheku Sheriff
A work of Fiction.


Nikiibu said...

Ndake Sheku,
Bi hunmei woh? "Kasomui haa fe yalamui weh;a kpoh wu ngombi ma nge goh. Yalamui haa fe kasomui weh..."
You get the drift. Entertaining story.

Sheku Sheriff said...

Exactly Nikiibu