Lola Opatayo

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Short Story
The car pulled up and the man and his wife alighted from it. They surveyed their bushy surroundings and walked gingerly to avoid steeping on thorns. From what they could see, the land was precisely what they wanted; a large plane of good soil in a quiet location. Houses had been built all around and the road network showed evidence of good planning. They were going to buy this land, whatever it took.

“So what do you think?” the man asked his wife.

“Nice, very nice. It’s almost as if the surveyor read our minds.” She replied.

“My thoughts exactly! So we’re buying right?” he asked with a smile.

“Oh yes, and quickly too before someone else buys it!” She answered just as they got to the surveyor who was conversing with a fair complexioned elderly man with three horizontally cut tribal marks.

“Good afternoon.” The surveyor said to them.

“Good afternoon Mr Banjo. Hope we didn’t keep you waiting for too long?” the man asked.

“No, not at all. We got here a few minutes ago. This is Mr Adewoyin the owner of the land.” The surveyor introduced.

“Oh! Good afternoon sir. Thank you for agreeing to see us today.” The man said enthusiastically.

“No problem. Good afternoon Madam.” The elderly man greeted.

“Good afternoon.” The woman replied expressionlessly. Her husband looked at her oddly wondering what was wrong.

“Let’s take a look at the land” the surveyor said somewhat impatiently, he had another showing in less than an hour.

“Of course” the man replied following. They walked the perimeter of the land which had been recently mown and the man began to imagine how they would build their house according to the pattern that his architect friend had already designed. He looked at his wife again; she still had that strange look on her face as if she was uncomfortable about something. Her eyes met his and then she looked away. What had suddenly changed her mood? The surveyor chatted on about the value of the land and the changes that would soon come to the area. Eventually they walked back to the car where they began to negotiate the sale of the land.

“Eight million naira” the landowner said.

“No, five million is what we agreed upon.”The man said.

“Things have changed. I have to share the money with other family members and you can imagine how difficult that can be.” The elderly man countered.

“But you knew you were going to share with other family members before you told us to pay five million. Nothing has changed!”The man replied irritably, thinking that they should not have come with their car because the man had obviously been affected by it.

“Look there are many people who want to buy this land but I really want to sell it you.” He looked at the surveyor for help but he was on the phone. “This is a very good piece of land and when the surveyor is through with his call, he’ll show you the plan so you can see the layout of the area. In fact I forgot to mention that the government is building a road that will lead straight to the expressway and you can imagine the rate of development that will come here once that is done. I wouldn’t be selling it if not for the fact that I need cash to settle to some personal matters.”

“Give us a minute let’s discuss” the man said holding his wife’s arm and gently pulling her aside.

“No problem” the elderly man replied

“Don’t buy this land!” the woman said as soon as they were alone.

“What do you mean? I thought we agreed that it was a good buy and the kind of land we wanted?” the man asked confused.

“I know we agreed but there is something about the man that I’m not comfortable with.”

“What about him?”

“Look I can’t place it but I just know something’s not right about the man.”

“I don’t see what could be wrong. This is a good offer please let’s not pass up on it. Besides, the surveyor came recommended so I don’t think this is a fraud. What we should be concerning ourselves with is how to beat down the asking price.”

The woman sighed. “If you say so.”

They walked back to the surveyor and the elderly man who were having a conversation of their own.

“Is everything alright?” the surveyor asked.

“Yes, my wife was just concerned about the amount Baba is asking us to pay.” The man replied with a straight face.

“I’ve spoken with him and he has agreed to sell it for six million.” The surveyor replied.

“There are still a lot of things we need to use money for, let’s pay five point five.”

“No, it’s six million or nothing. I’ve tried to be reasonable with you.” The elderly man said indignantly.

“Alright, we’ll pay. But we’ll pay half now if that’s alright and then pay the remaining half later within the next few weeks.” The man said resignedly.

“No problem.”


“So this is it!” the man said to his mother two weeks later. He shared a special relationship with his mother being her first child and only son so he had brought her to see the land he had bought.

“It’s a good land and in a good location too.” The woman replied slowly.

“What is the problem?” he asked his mother who was frowning.

“I know this place.” She said quietly.

The man laughed, thinking his mother was getting old. “Know this place? How can you know this place?”

“I’ve been here before.” She said moving towards a boundary marker and peering at it. “Who sold this land to you?” she asked suddenly


“Answer me!” she interrupted sharply.

“A Mr Adewo… Adewoyin” he stuttered alarmed.

“Oh my God!” the elderly woman said gasping, holding her hand to her chest.

“What is it mother?” he asked.

“Mother what is it?” his wife asked, she had been listening in shock the whole time.

“Describe him” she ordered.

“He’s slightly fair-complexioned, he has tribal marks…”

“Three on both cheeks…That was your father’s best friend. A few months before your father died, we were courting then, he bought a piece of land from his friend who was in dire straits and needed liquid cash and that was when I first came here.  I kept thinking I had been here before but I was unsure because the place has changed but then I remember that he had his initials carved into the boundary marker. Look at it, K.A. O. Kolade Ajani Olatunji. When your father died, his friend came to pay me a condolence visit and everything was hazy at the time, but I remember that shortly after his visit I discovered that I could no longer find the documents to the land. Your father’s friend suddenly disappeared and of course I couldn’t lay claim to a land whose papers I could not find. That man sold you your father’s land and he didn’t even know it was you because you bear a new surname.” The woman said weeping. “He has cheated me twice!”

“I knew there was something about that man!” the man’s wife thought as she watched her husband. He was obviously stunned and shook his head several times. Finally he shrugged and said quietly:

“It’s alright Mother, let’s go home.”

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