Ndidi sprang up immediately she heard her phone ring, she listened quietly to the caller on the other line and felt slight goose bumps all over her body. she glanced at the wall clock for the time it was 2.00 a.m , pulling up her pajamas trousers she reached out for a cigarette, opened her bedroom window and inhaled, feeling the warm nicotine smoke fill her lungs, it moved down her lung pipes like soothing menthol, her body began to relax and her mind started working. one of her informants had just called to inform her that Lilian Phillips had committed suicide and was rushed to a private hospital, her condition was currently unknown . Ndidi felt the pangs of guilt begin to subside from her system, true she wrote the expose article on Ochuko douglas's secret traditional wedding but if Lilian Phillips was dead she refused to blame herself, what Nigerian woman committed suicide because of a man, that was not a usual occurrence the lady was just mentally unbalanced. she stared thoughtfully at her male companion still deep asleep on her bed and let her mind wander. This situation just raised the story profile on Lilian Philips and Ochuko Douglas from entertainment to explosive breaking news and Ndidiamaka was already calculating what her next move was going to be, dead or alive the story just picked up pace and she was determined to follow it to the end.
Ndidiamaka Akiwu knew quite a bit about survival, she was the first child and only girl to Sylvanus Akiwu, people popularly knew her dad as Silver.
Growing up she had been inseparable from her dad, her other sibling James was a mummy's boy and had never really bonded with the man but not her, she was always there waiting for him when he came home late from work, she was the one who would sort through his clothes and select the outfit he would wear,most weekends he would take her in his Peugeot 504 to almost everywhere he went to, her mother had complained about their closeness, telling him that he was teaching their little daughter hard things reserved for men but he would not listen , her father was a man who did what he wanted, he was tall about 6 ft 4 inches and dark skinned , with blood shot red eyes that most people found menacing, he did not talk much, Ndidi never found it odd that unlike most fathers her dad was always in the company of men built just like him whom she called uncles and didn't seem to know their real names apart from their nicknames, she also did not find it odd that unlike most fathers her dad worked only at night,it was when she turned 13 that she began to have an idea of daddy's true calling, it was Friday night and as usual she had stayed up late reading a novel waiting for her father to come back from work, around 2.00 a.m she jumped up as she heard the screeching tires of two cars brake loudly in front of their compound, rushing to the door she flung it open to find her father and his friends carrying a blood soaked man into the house. they stopped suddenly when they saw her standing there and her father stared at her for some time, "amaka where is your mother?" he asked calmly, "she is sleeping in James room, he has a fever" she responded trying not to sound scared , she knew her father hated it when people showed fear and she did not want to disappoint him."can you be a big girl today?" she nodded. " good girl i need you to get me warm water and fresh towels ,also go to your mother's room and get our special tool set ,the one in brown rafia bag, bring them to my room. Uncle Friday needs our help" Ndidi quietly did as she was told and that was the first in many nights of helping wounded men at odd hours of the night , at 15 she finally learnt the truth about her Father , he was Silver shadow ,leader of the most notorious armed robbery gang in Obiwo town, Imo State.
Discovering your father robbed people for a living was surprisingly not as troubling to Ndidi as her mother had expected, her mother scared of the repercussions of having a teenage daughter who was increasingly becoming too comfortable with cleaning out bullet wounds and machete cuts had sat her down and in tears narrated her fathers true nature to her . "my daughter i did not know until it was too late " she pointed out tearfully when she had finished ,"so you see that is why you must go far from here, your father's dark side is beginning to corrupt you, i see the way you handle those injured men and the blood i don't want you to be like him." her mother at this point had started to wail. Ndidi was not perturbed "mama stop crying if he should come and hear that you gave me this information you know he will flog you again" "what is it the bible says?" she continued nonchalantly "the sins of the fathers will be paid for by the children so James and i are already cursed, my going away will not change anything ,i can only do the best with what i have, besides papa would never want me to follow in his footsteps." dusting her shorts as she got up, Ndidiamaka patted her mum on the shoulder and went into the kitchen to prepare dinner, her mother stared back at her as she left her mouth wide open in shock.
Things finally reached a crescendo on Ndidiamaka's 18th birthday, her father had retired from an active life in armed robbery, he became interested in politics , within the last two years they had received several high profile visitors including the State commissioner of police,her father had ditched his T shirt and trousers daily wears for native attires, the guns had been retired for words, that year her father took her to most of the political rally's he went for, she was his own personal assistant and knew everything that went on behind closed doors, the bribes, the blackmail, threats Ndidi was carried along in everything, her father had once jokingly told his new political friends that his daughter was a beautiful feminine version of him. the odds were stacked firmly in his favor to win the elections, his thugs harassed his opponents and he used his street connections to ensure that his ambition and that of his senior party members were not thwarted , everyone in the household was excited for the elections and they all thought this was going to be a fresh start for them in their life.
Her father in his excitement decided to mark her 18th birthday in a big way,he was going to throw a big party for her to celebrate becoming an adult and also to congratulate her on passing her SSCE results with flying colors, the Akiwu household had begun to forget the blood stained nights, or the sleepless nights laying in terror not knowing if their father would make it home alive or dead. The day of the party her father had come into her room full of pride, she was dressed in the new outfit her mother had made for her, a long ankara dress, standing at almost 5 ft 11 inches Ndidi was tall just like her father but that was where the resemblance ended, she was light skinned like her mum, with full dark hair which she always cut short, her body was lean just like a boy's but she had just enough curves to remind you that she was a woman, smiling excitedly she modeled her new dress for her dad but her father just stared at her for a long time his eyes swelling with tears, she had never ever seen her father cry so she was shocked. "papa o gini?" removing his hands from his long agbada he brought out a wrapped box and placed it in her hands , he cleaned his eyes and sat down forcing a smile "Happy birthday my daughter, you have always been the strong one so i want you to know this" he paused and looked straight at her." some party members are trying to replace me, you know i wont give up without a fight but they might want to eliminate me" Ndidi felt her legs give way as she sat on the bed , "but..but they cant, after everything you have done for them" she stammered her father looked at her and smiled, his blood shot eyes weary with fatigue, "its no secret i have led a rough life, living on ill gotten wealth stolen from innocent victims and there is no excuse for what i did but i never ever killed anyone in all my operations, and i never betrayed my gang but this politicians" he continued in anger " they don't understand loyalty they are of a different breed even worse than me." he sighed holding her hands and looking distraught, " if anything happens to me take care of your mother and brother, make sure you leave this town, i built my name with blood and theft but that does not have to be your fate, make sure you finish school and do something good with your life . remember me with love my daughter and try to enjoy your birthday."He opened his arms and embraced his daughter for the first time in her life, with tears in her eyes she watched him leave the house surrounded by his men, some dressed in their old garbs and some dressed in native attire, she remembered watching by the doorway like this as a child wishing he would take her with him, but she knew this trip was his to make. just as they were about to enter their cars her father looked back and stared at her brother James who was setting up the DJ booth under one of the canopies set up in the compound as usual James acted like their father did not exist and did not even look up as the cars sped off.That was the last time they saw their father, three days later they found the bodies of her father and his men, they had been shot and hurriedly buried in a narrow grave several miles away from town, two days later the dogs began to circle, the same men who came and lobbied in her fathers house went on air to denounce him, exposing him as the famed Silver shadow an armed robber and murderer who had deceived them to gain access into their party , the cause of death was not looked into instead the media beamed their search light on the acts her father had committed as an armed robber, members of his former gang who were not killed were hunted down and arrested, it didn't matter that most of them had changed or had turned a new leaf they were an example of what the new breed of politicians would do to men of the underworld in that community,it was all about getting the votes of the people and they had found their scape goat.
It took Ndidiamaka a month to tidy up their finances and leave Obiwo town, she took her mum and little brother and set off to Lagos, she dropped the amaka in her name and was known as only Ndidi here. Seven years later with a degree in mass communication and several controversial articles under her belt Ndidi was now a full fledged journalist. Her methods might be morally questionable and unprofessional but her Editor knew that if he closed his eyes and let her follow her instincts she was always going to get a hard hitting story, she put out the cigarette and looked at the wristwatch on her dressing table which was her father's last gift to her , the time was now 2.30 a.m , tomorrow she would head to the hospital and do some ground work her nose had picked up on a story and she was going to follow it to the end.