Posted in Prose, Stories

The abandoned child

CHAPTER 11

 

 

My overall performance in the first year endeared students to me in the second year. Many students that never as much as said a “hello” to me in the first year were now coming around me and seeking for space in my schedule. Maduka was the only friend I had in my first year but in my second year, “Omo” became the “man”. I was not carried away though because so many friends meant distractions.

 

There were two guys and a girl that were being viewed as the best three in the class while we were in year one. They were quick to answer questions in class; they were always handy to give assistance to students who had problem understanding certain topics. They were good but the overall result at the end of the session showed that I was better. I was a recluse because of my Yoruba accent; people laugh when I speak so I do not ask or answer questions in class.

 

The trio became my rivals in school, they watch out for the kind of books I read, they monitor the times I read. Whenever I am asked a question by the lecturers who have now known me, they interfere and want to show superior knowledge on the subject. One of the boys called Chukwuma even told me to my face that any brilliant person who cannot teach others is not worth the name. He said I was hoarding knowledge. I did not reply him, he did not know that outside the school, I was a teacher and my students are proud of me.

 

In my last letter to my mentor, I had updated every happening at school to him including the rivalry. He replied and said it was very natural, he then advised me to make friends with one or two equally good senior students in the faculty, a year and two years above my level.

 

I went to the four hundred levels and met with Samuel Ajibo who was the overall best student and Jane Nwankwo in three hundred levels. To these two I took academic problems to and I gained superior knowledge from them.

 

Towards the end of the first semester, I had just come out from the examination hall and was walking towards the hostel when Maduka cornered me and handed a bag to me and walked away.

Maduka na wetin dey inside? I asked but he did not reply, he simply waved me to go on.

I opened the bag and saw clothes, I called him to ask what it was meant for but he had gone far, he did not look back.

I took the bag home and emptied its content on my bunk. It contained three pairs on Jeans trousers, three Polo shirts, two Chinos short sleeve shirts and a pair of sandals. All were exactly my size. It couldn’t have been Maduka’s because while he was sturdy, I was lanky and the clothes matched me when I tried them on.

My bunk mate Chinasa, a weird fellow from Isialangwa in Abia state walked into the room from the examination hall, when he saw the clothes he started screaming “thank God o”! Thank God o! Bolaji don vex o! Make una come see o! Omo Yoruba don vex o! He don go charter Boutique o!

I hurriedly tucked away the clothes inside my box and locked it up, and then I ran out of the room as curious students started to troop into our room.

I went behind the hostel building and sat on the terrace to reminisce.

So people have noticed that I do not have clothes? Imagine Chinasa screaming and calling the whole dormitory to come and see my supposed new clothes! What a pity! What an embarrassment! How was I to know that anyone gave a damn about what I wear? I never gave a damn about whatever anyone wore so long it was clean.

I have a Jeans trouser and two shirts, a three quarter short, four boxers and two singlet. I wash anything I wear daily but for my jeans that I wash on Saturdays or Sundays.

My classmates also would have noticed my material deficiencies else Maduka would not have offered to clothe me. I wondered how much the Lad must have spent to procure the clothes for me, even though I would have preferred the cash equivalent because dressing was the least of my problems; however I was grateful to Maduka. I got up after thinking and soliloquizing for one hour and went to visit Maduka at his hostel.

 

There was as uproar when I walked into the examination hall the next morning. The hall was turned upside down. The hullaballoo was due to the new pair of black and red stripped shirt I wore on a new black Jeans. One of my class mates actually attempted to lift me on his shoulder and I ran out of the hall as the examination was yet to begin. That was when I shed tears. I cried because I was emotion laden by the fact that my poor condition was opened to all while I had thought that no one gave a damn!

 

I could not go back into the hall until the guy that tried to lift me up came to meet me under tree where I had run to, he saw the tears in my eyes and he hugged me. I cried the more.

Easy Omo! Easy! He said; I am so sorry for embarrassing you, but the fact was that I almost did not recognize you! You know I am so used to seeing you in your blue baggy jeans and green shirt! Seeing you like this today blew my mind and the mind of others as you could see in the hall. I am so sorry, please forgive me, he said as we hugged once more.

Wipe your tears; let’s go back into the hall for the invigilator has arrived with the examination papers.

Thanks a lot Godwin! I said.

But my guy, see as you fine! He teased; you be fine boy o! You come dey behave like a Jew man! Which babe you go toast now wey no go trip for you?  He asked jokingly as he pulled me along laughing.

 

I got the same reaction from every where I went to that week. I used to be referred to as “Omo baggy Jeans” behind my back.

The first semester examination ended well and the school went on break.

 

I had no where to go to so I stayed back in the hostel and when the hostel was almost empty I went to town to the school where I taught during the last long vacation. There was no vacancy. Very few students registered for extra moral lessons so I was not needed. The proprietor told me to come back by the next holiday when students would have started preparing for GCE and JAMB examinations. The implication of what the proprietor told me did not hit me until I got back to the hostel and checked up my money. I was left with seven hundred naira only.

 

Seven hundred naira would hold me for one week if I managed it well by sticking to a meal daily and drinking enough water. I needed a job to take care of my second semester needs. I was tempted to sell off some of the clothes Maduka gave me but I immediately dismissed the idea. The embarrassment I got concerning those clothes was an eye opener. I even need money to get more clothes and shoes before these ones becomes like a school uniform also. I need another shoe, I have a wet looks shoe and a palm sandals. The sole of the shoe had worn off badly that I wondered if I was bow legged. It can not survive the next semester. I would need to change the sole or get another shoe. I also realize that some students must be waiting to see the day that I will change my shoe. The best thing was to get another shoe and start wearing it immediately.

 

I hit town once again. I walked through the length and breadth of Owerri looking for any job that could pay anything. I ended up at Executive Gardens Hotel at Okigwe road. I got the job of a Bar man on a monthly salary of two thousand naira. I was quite happy at first but after working there for a week I almost abandoned the job and run away. But run to where nah?

 

I resumed for work as early as 7AM and because people do not come out to drink in the morning hours, my job was to join the room cleaners in cleaning up the rooms and dressing the beds, we change toiletries, disinfect the toilets, scrub the tiles on the walls of the bathroom and so on. The kind of stains I saw on bed sheets in some rooms after the guests have checked out are better left untold.

 

After working in the rooms until 1PM, I go downstairs to the bush bar and begin to clean up and set the tables and chairs in readiness for the day’s business. I stock up the Freezers with drinks; I take record of the opening stock of drinks and cigarettes in the bar. It was a Bush bar with DJ and life band facilities.

 

At 6PM I go back upstairs to take my bath and change into the hotel uniform of white shirt on black trousers then I return down stairs to join my colleague to begin the night’s activities. I do not rest until 2AM or 3AM when the last drunkard would have left. What actually bring business to the bush are the girls that come to hustle. I have never in my life seen such a careless and shameless display of immorality. The girls come from every where claiming to be students of the several higher institutions in eastern Nigeria. They come in varied shapes and sizes dressing seductively to woo the male, any male, as long as he has got cash. Many students from my school, including my lecturers come to patronize the bar and the girls. The girls were on take away basis or short time basis at the chalet in our hotel.

 

By 9PM the bar is at the peak of activities with either the DJ or the Life band entertaining and customers dancing. Men and ladies drinking and smoking, bar men running hitter titter to attend to customer’s need. The girls dance to every music showing themselves while the men sit and watch and eventually pick their choice girl by sending us the bar men to invite the girl to their table

 

By 12 midnight, they begin to fizzle out in twos’, some go into the hotel to spend the night together and others to “God knows where”. I then sit down after the last person has gone to count my tips which I had tucked into my back pocket to avoid adding it to the company’s money that I collect from customers.

 

Till this day I still wonder how some ladies came to the hotel every night and went away with different men each night. Some would have had three to four short time sessions with men in the hotel before finally going home with another man. They called it hustling and they don’t give a damn.

 

An incident I will never forget at the hotel happened the night a fine gentleman was brought to the hotel by his friend just to prove to him that his fiancée was not whom he thought she was.

The so called fiancée in the company of her friends and five men were on a round table setting eating Nkwobi, drinking assorted spirits and smoking cigarettes. They were chatting loud and having fun.

The fiancée was high on spirit and she stood up to dance to entertain her client for the night. With her cigarette in her left finger, she zoomed into the client who was seated; she pulled his chair backwards so she could have a space between him and the table. She then came between him and the table dancing seductively and rolling her back side in his face. She then sat on his crouch facing him with her full breast under his nose. Her cream coloured mini gown slipped up revealing alluring thighs. The randy client dug his head into her bosom and did things with his mouth. Her mates on the table were cheering, we were watching.

It was when Mr. Randy grabbed her butt and squeezed that hell was let loose.

The gentleman fiancé screamed “chineke me ee”! awunanam ee! (My God, I am dead) the man screamed stamping his feet as he charged towards the table: Nkechi! He shouted: Nkechi! Ihe a, obu ilo k’ogini! Is this a dream or what?

Jesus! Jesus! Was all Nkechi kept muttering as she jumped off her client sending the client and his chair tumbling over and she ran out of the bush bar leaving her bag and shoes behind. They were engaged to be married in a weeks’ time

 

CHAPTER 12

 

We did not resume for the second semester as stipulated in the academic calendar, we rather resumed into a long session of industrial strike action embarked upon by the academic staff union due to non payment of salaries and allowances accrued over five months. Students went back home after waiting for a week without resolution between the government and the academic union.

 

I continued my routine work at the Executive Gardens. I was paid my first salary of one thousand seven hundred and fifty naira after deducting the amount I incurred as loses due to breakages and forgetting to collect monies from some customers. Many cunning customers sneak away without paying for their drinks. Some would have finished drinking and eating pepper soup before remembering that they forgot their wallets at home. We also have the “book me down customers”, these are regular customers who drink through the month and pay off at month end when they collect their salaries.

 

But I was okay, my accumulated tips for the month was about one thousand five hundred naira so I had over three thousand naira with me.

We stayed home for two months before the strike was finally called off by the academic staff union and school resumed in earnest. I had worked for three months and I could boast of over seven thousand naira. I felt very rich and so I boarded a bus to the popular Ariaria Market in the city of Aba. I went with a colleague at the hotel, a cleaner who had told me a lot about how one could get very cheap commodities at the market.

 

I purchased four trousers, four Polo T shirts, two short sleeves shirts and two long sleeve shirts. We later left Ariaria Market and went to “School Road” street to buy a brown Timberland safety Boot and a black brock’s shoe. I spent two thousand five hundred naira on all the purchase. I never knew clothes and shoes could be that affordable even though the shoes were fairly used they were rock solid that one could easily take it for brand new from Italy. I bought a lot of food stuff too and I was ready for the second semester of my 200 levels.

 

Within two weeks on resumption of the second semester, I had redeemed my image. Maduka bought more clothes for me again, I told him I have enough as I narrated my holiday experience to him, he however dropped the three trousers, four shirts and one canvas on my bed. Chinasa watched as I changed into different clothes daily for two weeks stretch. He could no hold his tongue as he shouted again on a Monday morning when I wore white Polo shirt on a fitted blue Jeans and Canvas;

Old boy! Abi you go rob Boutique? Make una see Omo o! I just dey look you all these days I no want to talk! Omo na who provoke you nah?

 

Guy leave that yarn o! na God dey do am; I replied

 

There was also mixed reactions from my class mates, but I noticed that I got more friends, especially the ladies.

 

I stopped going to the Hotel daily except for weekends that I went to help out with work. I was not being paid salary but I earned my tips.

 

Our first semester result was released mid way into the second semester. My total CGP was 4.80. I was still the best in class. I wrote a letter to Mr. Adegoke and gave him update of what I did during the holiday till date. I got his reply after two weeks and as usual after reading his mail, I was charged the more. I dug into my books harder. He reminded me that I should never take my tests or assignments for granted. He said if I could score the whole forty points in my test and assignment, all I need is forty more point s out of the 60 examination points to make an “A”. He said majority of students take their tests and assignments for granted and begins to struggle to score the whole 60 points in examination which is always not possible. Those are the average students, I was a first class material, he had written.

 

My self esteem rose higher in the second semester as I got several compliments from Guys and babes alike when I dress. I had grown into a 6 feet 3 inches tall young man. I have good stature with hard hands developed over the years farming in the Village. I have a gap between my incisors and when I smiled or laughed my cheek dimpled. I have dark eye brows, dark shinny hair and moustache. My stomach was flat with six packs and my waist is narrow upon long tapering athletic legs.

 

Poverty had not made me to realize my natural endowment until in my second year in the university at the age of twenty three

 

Towards the second semester examinations, I became involved in several tutorial lessons organized by year one students. I was paid by the students at the end of each session. They imposed levies on all attendees to pay me.

 

 

 

 

 

bookcoverimage-the-abandoned-child-amazon

Posted in Literature, Prose, Stories

The abandoned child

CHAPTER 11

 

 

My overall performance in the first year endeared students to me in the second year. Many students that never as much as said a “hello” to me in the first year were now coming around me and seeking for space in my schedule. Maduka was the only friend I had in my first year but in my second year, “Omo” became the “man”. I was not carried away though because so many friends meant distractions.

 

There were two guys and a girl that were being viewed as the best three in the class while we were in year one. They were quick to answer questions in class; they were always handy to give assistance to students who had problem understanding certain topics. They were good but the overall result at the end of the session showed that I was better. I was a recluse because of my Yoruba accent; people laugh when I speak so I do not ask or answer questions in class.

 

The trio became my rivals in school, they watch out for the kind of books I read, they monitor the times I read. Whenever I am asked a question by the lecturers who have now known me, they interfere and want to show superior knowledge on the subject. One of the boys called Chukwuma even told me to my face that any brilliant person who cannot teach others is not worth the name. He said I was hoarding knowledge. I did not reply him, he did not know that outside the school, I was a teacher and my students are proud of me.

 

In my last letter to my mentor, I had updated every happening at school to him including the rivalry. He replied and said it was very natural, he then advised me to make friends with one or two equally good senior students in the faculty, a year and two years above my level.

 

I went to the four hundred levels and met with Samuel Ajibo who was the overall best student and Jane Nwankwo in three hundred levels. To these two I took academic problems to and I gained superior knowledge from them.

 

Towards the end of the first semester, I had just come out from the examination hall and was walking towards the hostel when Maduka cornered me and handed a bag to me and walked away.

Maduka na wetin dey inside? I asked but he did not reply, he simply waved me to go on.

I opened the bag and saw clothes, I called him to ask what it was meant for but he had gone far, he did not look back.

I took the bag home and emptied its content on my bunk. It contained three pairs on Jeans trousers, three Polo shirts, two Chinos short sleeve shirts and a pair of sandals. All were exactly my size. It couldn’t have been Maduka’s because while he was sturdy, I was lanky and the clothes matched me when I tried them on.

My bunk mate Chinasa, a weird fellow from Isialangwa in Abia state walked into the room from the examination hall, when he saw the clothes he started screaming “thank God o”! Thank God o! Bolaji don vex o! Make una come see o! Omo Yoruba don vex o! He don go charter Boutique o!

I hurriedly tucked away the clothes inside my box and locked it up, and then I ran out of the room as curious students started to troop into our room.

I went behind the hostel building and sat on the terrace to reminisce.

So people have noticed that I do not have clothes? Imagine Chinasa screaming and calling the whole dormitory to come and see my supposed new clothes! What a pity! What an embarrassment! How was I to know that anyone gave a damn about what I wear? I never gave a damn about whatever anyone wore so long it was clean.

I have a Jeans trouser and two shirts, a three quarter short, four boxers and two singlet. I wash anything I wear daily but for my jeans that I wash on Saturdays or Sundays.

My classmates also would have noticed my material deficiencies else Maduka would not have offered to clothe me. I wondered how much the Lad must have spent to procure the clothes for me, even though I would have preferred the cash equivalent because dressing was the least of my problems; however I was grateful to Maduka. I got up after thinking and soliloquizing for one hour and went to visit Maduka at his hostel.

 

There was as uproar when I walked into the examination hall the next morning. The hall was turned upside down. The hullaballoo was due to the new pair of black and red stripped shirt I wore on a new black Jeans. One of my class mates actually attempted to lift me on his shoulder and I ran out of the hall as the examination was yet to begin. That was when I shed tears. I cried because I was emotion laden by the fact that my poor condition was opened to all while I had thought that no one gave a damn!

 

I could not go back into the hall until the guy that tried to lift me up came to meet me under tree where I had run to, he saw the tears in my eyes and he hugged me. I cried the more.

Easy Omo! Easy! He said; I am so sorry for embarrassing you, but the fact was that I almost did not recognize you! You know I am so used to seeing you in your blue baggy jeans and green shirt! Seeing you like this today blew my mind and the mind of others as you could see in the hall. I am so sorry, please forgive me, he said as we hugged once more.

Wipe your tears; let’s go back into the hall for the invigilator has arrived with the examination papers.

Thanks a lot Godwin! I said.

But my guy, see as you fine! He teased; you be fine boy o! You come dey behave like a Jew man! Which babe you go toast now wey no go trip for you?  He asked jokingly as he pulled me along laughing.

 

I got the same reaction from every where I went to that week. I used to be referred to as “Omo baggy Jeans” behind my back.

The first semester examination ended well and the school went on break.

 

I had no where to go to so I stayed back in the hostel and when the hostel was almost empty I went to town to the school where I taught during the last long vacation. There was no vacancy. Very few students registered for extra moral lessons so I was not needed. The proprietor told me to come back by the next holiday when students would have started preparing for GCE and JAMB examinations. The implication of what the proprietor told me did not hit me until I got back to the hostel and checked up my money. I was left with seven hundred naira only.

 

Seven hundred naira would hold me for one week if I managed it well by sticking to a meal daily and drinking enough water. I needed a job to take care of my second semester needs. I was tempted to sell off some of the clothes Maduka gave me but I immediately dismissed the idea. The embarrassment I got concerning those clothes was an eye opener. I even need money to get more clothes and shoes before these ones becomes like a school uniform also. I need another shoe, I have a wet looks shoe and a palm sandals. The sole of the shoe had worn off badly that I wondered if I was bow legged. It can not survive the next semester. I would need to change the sole or get another shoe. I also realize that some students must be waiting to see the day that I will change my shoe. The best thing was to get another shoe and start wearing it immediately.

 

I hit town once again. I walked through the length and breadth of Owerri looking for any job that could pay anything. I ended up at Executive Gardens Hotel at Okigwe road. I got the job of a Bar man on a monthly salary of two thousand naira. I was quite happy at first but after working there for a week I almost abandoned the job and run away. But run to where nah?

 

I resumed for work as early as 7AM and because people do not come out to drink in the morning hours, my job was to join the room cleaners in cleaning up the rooms and dressing the beds, we change toiletries, disinfect the toilets, scrub the tiles on the walls of the bathroom and so on. The kind of stains I saw on bed sheets in some rooms after the guests have checked out are better left untold.

 

After working in the rooms until 1PM, I go downstairs to the bush bar and begin to clean up and set the tables and chairs in readiness for the day’s business. I stock up the Freezers with drinks; I take record of the opening stock of drinks and cigarettes in the bar. It was a Bush bar with DJ and life band facilities.

 

At 6PM I go back upstairs to take my bath and change into the hotel uniform of white shirt on black trousers then I return down stairs to join my colleague to begin the night’s activities. I do not rest until 2AM or 3AM when the last drunkard would have left. What actually bring business to the bush are the girls that come to hustle. I have never in my life seen such a careless and shameless display of immorality. The girls come from every where claiming to be students of the several higher institutions in eastern Nigeria. They come in varied shapes and sizes dressing seductively to woo the male, any male, as long as he has got cash. Many students from my school, including my lecturers come to patronize the bar and the girls. The girls were on take away basis or short time basis at the chalet in our hotel.

 

By 9PM the bar is at the peak of activities with either the DJ or the Life band entertaining and customers dancing. Men and ladies drinking and smoking, bar men running hitter titter to attend to customer’s need. The girls dance to every music showing themselves while the men sit and watch and eventually pick their choice girl by sending us the bar men to invite the girl to their table

 

By 12 midnight, they begin to fizzle out in twos’, some go into the hotel to spend the night together and others to “God knows where”. I then sit down after the last person has gone to count my tips which I had tucked into my back pocket to avoid adding it to the company’s money that I collect from customers.

 

Till this day I still wonder how some ladies came to the hotel every night and went away with different men each night. Some would have had three to four short time sessions with men in the hotel before finally going home with another man. They called it hustling and they don’t give a damn.

 

An incident I will never forget at the hotel happened the night a fine gentleman was brought to the hotel by his friend just to prove to him that his fiancée was not whom he thought she was.

The so called fiancée in the company of her friends and five men were on a round table setting eating Nkwobi, drinking assorted spirits and smoking cigarettes. They were chatting loud and having fun.

The fiancée was high on spirit and she stood up to dance to entertain her client for the night. With her cigarette in her left finger, she zoomed into the client who was seated; she pulled his chair backwards so she could have a space between him and the table. She then came between him and the table dancing seductively and rolling her back side in his face. She then sat on his crouch facing him with her full breast under his nose. Her cream coloured mini gown slipped up revealing alluring thighs. The randy client dug his head into her bosom and did things with his mouth. Her mates on the table were cheering, we were watching.

It was when Mr. Randy grabbed her butt and squeezed that hell was let loose.

The gentleman fiancé screamed “chineke me ee”! awunanam ee! (My God, I am dead) the man screamed stamping his feet as he charged towards the table: Nkechi! He shouted: Nkechi! Ihe a, obu ilo k’ogini! Is this a dream or what?

Jesus! Jesus! Was all Nkechi kept muttering as she jumped off her client sending the client and his chair tumbling over and she ran out of the bush bar leaving her bag and shoes behind. They were engaged to be married in a weeks’ time

 

CHAPTER 12

 

We did not resume for the second semester as stipulated in the academic calendar, we rather resumed into a long session of industrial strike action embarked upon by the academic staff union due to non payment of salaries and allowances accrued over five months. Students went back home after waiting for a week without resolution between the government and the academic union.

 

I continued my routine work at the Executive Gardens. I was paid my first salary of one thousand seven hundred and fifty naira after deducting the amount I incurred as loses due to breakages and forgetting to collect monies from some customers. Many cunning customers sneak away without paying for their drinks. Some would have finished drinking and eating pepper soup before remembering that they forgot their wallets at home. We also have the “book me down customers”, these are regular customers who drink through the month and pay off at month end when they collect their salaries.

 

But I was okay, my accumulated tips for the month was about one thousand five hundred naira so I had over three thousand naira with me.

We stayed home for two months before the strike was finally called off by the academic staff union and school resumed in earnest. I had worked for three months and I could boast of over seven thousand naira. I felt very rich and so I boarded a bus to the popular Ariaria Market in the city of Aba. I went with a colleague at the hotel, a cleaner who had told me a lot about how one could get very cheap commodities at the market.

 

I purchased four trousers, four Polo T shirts, two short sleeves shirts and two long sleeve shirts. We later left Ariaria Market and went to “School Road” street to buy a brown Timberland safety Boot and a black brock’s shoe. I spent two thousand five hundred naira on all the purchase. I never knew clothes and shoes could be that affordable even though the shoes were fairly used they were rock solid that one could easily take it for brand new from Italy. I bought a lot of food stuff too and I was ready for the second semester of my 200 levels.

 

Within two weeks on resumption of the second semester, I had redeemed my image. Maduka bought more clothes for me again, I told him I have enough as I narrated my holiday experience to him, he however dropped the three trousers, four shirts and one canvas on my bed. Chinasa watched as I changed into different clothes daily for two weeks stretch. He could no hold his tongue as he shouted again on a Monday morning when I wore white Polo shirt on a fitted blue Jeans and Canvas;

Old boy! Abi you go rob Boutique? Make una see Omo o! I just dey look you all these days I no want to talk! Omo na who provoke you nah?

 

Guy leave that yarn o! na God dey do am; I replied

 

There was also mixed reactions from my class mates, but I noticed that I got more friends, especially the ladies.

 

I stopped going to the Hotel daily except for weekends that I went to help out with work. I was not being paid salary but I earned my tips.

 

Our first semester result was released mid way into the second semester. My total CGP was 4.80. I was still the best in class. I wrote a letter to Mr. Adegoke and gave him update of what I did during the holiday till date. I got his reply after two weeks and as usual after reading his mail, I was charged the more. I dug into my books harder. He reminded me that I should never take my tests or assignments for granted. He said if I could score the whole forty points in my test and assignment, all I need is forty more point s out of the 60 examination points to make an “A”. He said majority of students take their tests and assignments for granted and begins to struggle to score the whole 60 points in examination which is always not possible. Those are the average students, I was a first class material, he had written.

 

My self esteem rose higher in the second semester as I got several compliments from Guys and babes alike when I dress. I had grown into a 6 feet 3 inches tall young man. I have good stature with hard hands developed over the years farming in the Village. I have a gap between my incisors and when I smiled or laughed my cheek dimpled. I have dark eye brows, dark shinny hair and moustache. My stomach was flat with six packs and my waist is narrow upon long tapering athletic legs.

 

Poverty had not made me to realize my natural endowment until in my second year in the university at the age of twenty three

 

Towards the second semester examinations, I became involved in several tutorial lessons organized by year one students. I was paid by the students at the end of each session. They imposed levies on all attendees to pay me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Literature, Prose, Stories

The abandoned child

CHAPTER 10

 

1991-University environment was so different from any environment I have been in my twenty two years of existence. It was a case of multi socio-cultural mix up.

 

No one gave a damn about my age! In fact I was not the oldest in my class of seventy students at 100 levels. I had married men and women as class mates! I had my age mates and younger ones too, no one cared about age and that feeling was soothing to me unlike what I passed through in my secondary school where my class mates and the whole school tagged me an uncle.

 

The social life was something else though. I had to adapt. For instance, I needed to stop bowing too low or try to prostrate while greeting someone that is older than me. I needed to curtail the excessive use of “yes sir” while discussing with an older one, be it student or lecturer, I could start a sentence with “yes sir” and end it with “sir” it was strange to the eastern people when I discuss with and older person and show so much respect. They laugh at me, they say I am local.

 

Another thing I observed here was the public show of affection between male and female students. I was always carried away when I see a boy and a girl taking a walk hand in hand or worse still when a girl seats on the lap of a boy discussing in public. I would forget myself and mope at them until they either shout at me or they shy away from my presence. It was not easy for me to stop looking at skimpily dressed ladies exposing their luscious cleavages and thighs in public, people were so free. No class prefect or school prefect to bully you.  The class captains here were mere stooges for the lecturers.

 

There were joints where we go to buy snacks and soft drinks. One could also go to town in the evening to drink alcohol or whatever pleases you. The evenings were my favourite moments as I would go out and sit close the school gate to watch the array of visitors trooping in and out of the school to pick up our girls. I saw exotic cars in their numbers; cars I had thought only existed in foreign movies, porch cars with convertible roof blaring out loud music and occupants dressed like movies Stars.

I would watch girls dressed for the night walk out of the school gate to board taxis to town. My favourite sit out was at Mallam Musa’s Kiosk close to the gate, I normally buy groundnut or biscuit and a bottle of Fanta as I sit and feed my eyes.

 

In my first year, I rarely went to the school joint. It was not meant for my type. I had no money to spare, the two times I went there was on invitation by a friend called Maduka. He had insisted I accompanied him there for a snack. When we got there, it was a beehive of activities. Every table was occupied with students spending money, eating and drinking. We had to wait for some students to finish eating and leave before we took over the chairs they sat on. I saw a student commanding the waitress to serve about seven other students seated around him with whatever they want.

I also saw wastage of food and drinks. Many of the girls that ate at the joint did not eat up their snacks, they barely drank half of the soft drink and bite off half of the snacks, the only item I know they ate up was meat. I hardly saw any left over stick meat. I wished I could pack up all the left over’s and take to my room. It would do me for a couple of days.

 

Year one was like an extension of secondary school. I did so well in my courses because I was already good in physics and other science subjects before entering the university.

 

The school was quite affordable because it is a federal government school. I was in the dormitory and we ate at the refectory while some of us cooked. I did both.

 

Mr. Adegoke and I were still in touch through letter writing and I always looked forward to reading from him.

Yes! Lest I forget, I had problems pronouncing the names of Igbo friends, names that starts with “Chi” I would pronounce as “she” it was practically impossible for me to change that tone, even when I tried to pronounce it right and it sounds right to my hearing, they still laugh at me and said I couldn’t get it right. I would call Ikesukwu instead of Ikechukwu. It irritated some of them and they would rather I called their English names while it amused others. All in all, it earned me the name “Omo Yoruba” in my first year. I am Yoruba by tribe and my accent stood out.

In the hostel I was quiet and reserved. I do not exceed my boundary, I do not mingle. I simply coil up in my bunk and dig into my books. Mr. Adegoke had told me that I needed to start working on my grades from my first day in school so I do no miss classes, I do not miss assignments and tests and when the second semester result was published, the name “Omo” became a force to be reckoned with. I cleared all “A”s and my CGP was 5.0.

 

I stayed back in the hostel during the holiday. I had no where to go to. Few students stayed back also. My money had run down and I was wondering how I would cope in my second year when school resumes. I could still pay my school and departmental fees, but then I would be left with very little to feed.

 

I went into town; I walked the length of Okigwe road to World Bank area looking for anything until I saw a vacancy advert posted on a gate. It read “Holiday Tutors wanted “. I knocked at the gate; it was a private school that needed Science teachers for students on holiday as well as preparatory classes for SSCE and JAMB examinations. I got the offer to teach Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics to SS1 and SS2 students. I started work immediately. It was fun and engaging but the pay was good. I solved every question the students threw at me to test my capability because I looked young and inexperienced.

Within two weeks of my working at the school, the number of students doubled. I have my ways of teaching that it made the student to want to be in my class, I told them that if a Village man like me with the least support in life could clear all “A”s in my S.S.C.E then it should be an easy ride for them that are in the City and have every family support they need. I made the students to solve equations themselves. I gave them home works and the next day we solve it together. The students looked forward to my jokes and my accent too, but in all, they got to love the subjects that I taught.

 

The most important aspect of teaching was that it also opened an avenue for me to research and improves on myself. I had to read wider to prepare for those naughty students who liked to disgrace lecturers by bringing problems that are out of the curriculum for the lecturer to solve. Some will ask irrelevant question just to embarrass the Teacher. These were children of the elites in Owerri. Spoilt Kids.

 

I made more money during the November General Certificate Examination G.C.E. The private school where I taught during the holidays was an examination centre for the G.C.E. The proprietor hired me to assist the students that were writing the examination at his centre. I was kept in a secured room and question papers from the examination hall were brought to me to solve and provide answers for the students. I went on different days to provide answers for Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics questions. I was sure the Students would clear those subjects with “A”s. except the student that refuse to pay up. I was rewarded handsomely for my effort and on resumption for school in 1992 at the age of twenty three, I was ready for school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Prose, Stories

The Abandoned Child

CHAPTER 8

 

I997 I was 18 and in J.S.S 3 (junior secondary class 3) according to the new academic calendar. Modupe had graduated from our school and was waiting for her W.A.E.C and JAMB results to proceed into the University.

 

During the last long vacation, I had gone to meet Modupe’s mother and told her about all that transpired between Modupe and I in school. I recounted as many embarrassing episodes as I could to her and finally I told her that I need my money, all of it.

 

She said she had invested everything in her business and I should give her time. I told her I have given her three good years already, she was not training me in school because I was on full scholarship. She does not buy me anything nor gives me pocket allowance. I hustle for my pocket money! How can I have money with her yet she could not spare me some from time to time?

 

I was still discussing with her when Modupe walked into the sitting room accompanied by hey boyfriend Akindele. The mother told her to sit down and she narrated all I had told her to her daughter.

 

It was Akindele that first reacted.

Dupe is it true? He asked her surprised

Is what true? She countered

All that Bolaji said about how you treated and humiliated him at School is it true?

Why are you acting up Akin? She had challenged him: would you believe what this bastard told my mum or you would hear me out first!

What? Akin was shocked; I did not hear you well, did you just call Bolaji a bastard? Is Bolaji your age mate? Are you this rude? Akin queried

 

I can see you are already taking sides! No problem, judge me! Judge me Akin! She said and began to sob. Akin lost his guard and pulled her into his arms; I am sorry, he said; I didn’t mean to scold you that way. Then he turned to me

BJ, he called; how dare you come here and fabricate lies to mama? What is your motive? He asked.

 

I shook my head in disgust as I rose to my feet; listen all of you! I want you people to listen to this bastard very well; I want all of my money that I gave mama to keep for me! For the past three years, this family has been feeding fat on my money yet you call me a bastard! I am a bastard but my money is not a bastard abi?  And you Akin! I feel so sorry for you; see how easily your senses are confused by your girl friend! You can’t think straight as a man and proffer justice! This girl will put you into trouble someday because you are not in control of her. You dare challenge me and took sides with Modupe after all she did to me? If it were my old self I know what I could have done to you! You know me nah! Don’t you? Have you forgotten what I did to you while we were in primary four? I can still do it again! I can still beat you up and stuff your mouth with dried shit like I did years ago! You stand here and asked me stupid questions instead of admonishing your spoilt brat. You no dey fear face? Well, mama I will be going back to school next week and when I return during the holiday, I want my entire money ready in cash! I walked toward the door on my way out of the house.

 

Look Bolaji or whatever your miserable name is! Modupe called: water, they say finds its level! Go and find your level! I am not in your class! I will not bring my self so low as to banter words with you! You are like a pig! No matter how well you are washed, you will always go back to the dirt. Agbaya lasan lasan! Uncle B my foot! Look Bolaji, I beg you in the name of whatever you hold sacred, don’t ever come near me or my family again! It is my mother that has been making me to tolerate you all this while o! I wish the children of Baba Oloro had beheaded you the way they beheaded your dog the last time! You would have been forgotten by now! Stupid local champion! If not for my mother that saved your life and accommodated you in our house you would have been dead by now and you have the effrontery to stand before her now with disrespect over a paltry amount of money that she is keeping for you! Ingrate! If not for my mother and I would you have left the boarders of this village let alone attending the same school with me? Now you can speak English language and you think we are on the same level! She clapped her hands as she hurled abuses at me.

 

I was stunned watching her heap insults at me and no one stopped or cautioned her. When she paused for air I quickly chipped in a question at her; Modupe, where and how did I wrong you? Why so much hatred for me? Please tell me so I can apologize to you!

 

I don’t want your apology! She barked: I hate you! You are a pig! And she stormed out of my presence into her room.

 

 

Once again I went to school and told Mr. Adegoke about what transpired in the village during the holidays. I told him about my money in Modupe’s mother’s custody.

 

Hmm, I have my fears, he said; I have my fears about the possibility of you getting your money back. If she does not give you the money when you go back home, you may have to involve the police in the matter. I can smell sabotage, I for see mischief, he said; but in all of this, whatever happens, I want you to keep your head up and don’t look focus on your sole objective of making it in life! I want you to brace up to the challenges life will throw at you. Life is not fair! He said; I tell you the truth my boy, life is cruel and human beings can be terrible! I will advise that you brace up for dark days ahead because I am sure you have been swindled by those women!

 

 

 

 

I buried myself in my studies in preparation for the junior WAEC examination. I did not go home during the first term holiday; Mr. Adegoke invited me to spend the holiday with his family in Ibadan. I enrolled at an intensive tutorial class during this period and I was able to cover all lost ground and even studied topics ahead and outside the schools academic curriculum.

I was smoking hot when we resumed back to school, as everything taught was not new to me. I was asking and answering questions as if I was Kazeem. At the end of the final exams I cleared all my subjects with ‘A’ and a ‘B’ in Yoruba language. Passing my junior W.A.E.C in flying colours sure made me very happy as I was the second overall best student, Kazeem cleared all ‘A’s and was the overall best.

 

I went back home to settle scores with Modupe and her mother as per my money, I had resolved to collect the money and relocate permanently to Ibadan.

I got the rudest shock of my life when I got home to find out that Modupe and her family had vanished into thin air. Their house was deserted. I went to inquire from the owner of the house and he said he does not know their whereabouts, he said as long as they were not owing him any rent, they are not his business. I went round the village looking for them to no avail.

Modupe’s mother is not an aborigine of our community so she could have relocated to her village, but no one even knows her Village, we all knew her to be an Ijebu woman but which of the Ijebu’s? No one knows. It was like coming to Nigeria to look for a Nigerian woman that swindled you abroad and all you know about her is that she is Nigerian!

After a week of searching with the police, I gave up hope of ever seeing them again, coupled with the fact that the Police men were beginning to exploit me in the name of helping me. I was paying for the fueling their Car; I was buying food for them and giving them tips daily as we drove to places where we hoped to get information about the Modupe’s family.

 

I went back to my house and brought out all grandmas’ boxes of clothes and jewelries. I took the contents to each market day and sold until I sold off all that was left by my grandma. I raised seventy thousand naira from her jewelries and clothes that I sold. I locked up the house, carried my luggage and traveled back to school to resume in senior secondary class one. That was in 1988 and I was 19 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 9

 

Welcome to the real world Bolaji! I saw this coming when that woman started giving you lame excuses about your money. I knew something was amiss! My dear, no one gives a damn if you are an orphan or if you are somehow incapacitated, whether you are duped or swindled, no one cares! You are even lucky you could still raise some money from your grandmas’ properties! Even with the little money with you, you are still better off than millions of people in this country! Some people will still rob you off that money with you after listening to your pathetic story. My boy, this world is a battle field!

 

I was expecting to hear consolatory words from Mr. Adegoke but these words of his were strange and it left me confused.

My boy! He continued; it is all left to you to make a difference! To change your story and your situation! Life is like a relay race competition, grab your baton and bolt! Don’t look back! You may stumble and fall! Don’t look back! The facial construction and determination of the other mans’ face may scare you and you loose hope in your own ability! Even if you fall, even if your baton drops, pick it up and continue the race! Remain focused, gun for the finish line tape and ensure you complete the race!

 

He paused in his pace to and fro the office, and then he looked at me with an expression I could not interpret

 

Bolaji! He called

Sir!

Do you know you can make a difference in this world?

No sir!

Get an education! Never back down! With education, you can make a difference in today’s world!

But sir, how can I get an education with what has happened to me! I have narrated my ordeal in the village to you; I have lost all hopes of survival financially. The scholarship granted to me only covers tuition fees alone.

 

Hmm, Bolaji! Do not focus on the problem any longer, it will build up negative energy in you and that can destroy you. Don’t allow what happened too confuse and throw you back to the dirt’s Modupe said you always fall back to! You will never be able to forge ahead when you wallow too long in the wilderness of negativity and impossibility, in the abyss of sorrow and disappointments! Then you will be stuck down there!

Free your self my boy! They may have stolen your money but not your brains! They may have cheated you but you still have a chance at life! You are alive my man! Use your brains! Sometime ago you could barely speak English! Sometime ago you could barely solve a simple mathematical equation! Sometime ago you could not eat with a set of cutlery except your bare hands! But look at you today! You are refined; you are one of the best students in the school! My boy! Show the world that you are born to succeed! Get an education at all cost! If you must slave to get an education, then slave it! If you have to hunger and thirst to get an education, then so be it! My boy! You have got potentials and I do not want you to blow it! If you have to be humiliated, abused and trodden upon to get an education, face it! As long as it does not kill you, you shall overcome.

Bolaji stand up! He snapped.

I stood up! I was charged. I felt goose pimples all over me.

Say after me Bolaji; I will succeed!

I will succeed! I replied

Say it like you mean it! I can’t hear you!

I will succeed sir!

No! No! No! You are not talking to me! Say it to Bolaji Afolabi! Say it to yourself, you will succeed!

I will succeed! I will succeed! I said repeatedly beating my chest and meaning every word of it and that instant, I made up my mind to let go of the past and move on with my life taking each day as it comes but with a determination to be the best.

 

I moved into Mr. Adegoke’s boy’s quarters during the holidays and I attended extra tutorial lessons. I was a science student. My friend Kazeem opted for the social sciences because he wanted to be an accountant like his farther. I wanted to be an engineer so I stuck to the pure sciences.

 

My senior secondary school years were very engaging as I buried myself in my books. I continued to be the class captain and in SS3 I was made the school’s senior prefect. I represented the school in all academic competitions and we excelled. My spoken English improved tremendously and I lost a lot of my Ekiti accent, though not totally.

 

Mr. Adegoke combined farming with his teaching profession, so during my holidays, I assisted him in the farm. He had a daughter and a son who were still very young and were in primary school. I was like a younger brother to him and he offered me shelter, food and protection. He was not super rich, but he was comfortable, he was also studying on part time at the University of Ibadan for his post graduate degree.

 

I continued to top my class, I was an overall ‘A’ student and when I wrote my senior secondary certificate examination (S.S.C.E) in 1990 (The first set to write S.S.C.E) I was very hopeful of a good result. After my S.S.C.E I was living with Mr. Adegoke helping out in the farm and working part time as a teacher at the Tutorial School I attended. I was teaching junior classes and SS1 students.

 

My joy was full the day Mr. Goke came back from work and brought out a sheet of paper from his bag, he stretched the paper at me grinning from ear to ear. See your result! He said; my heart beat skipped an instant as I held my breath and clasped my hand over my mouth in shock. I was scared but for the smiles on his face, then he said congratulations my boy! You made me proud. I quickly glanced at the paper and all I could see was ‘A’ parallel! Even in yoruba language.

You are the overall best he told me as I leapt into his opened arms. I know you could do it! I know you could do it! He said patting my back as I cried for joy.

His wife came out and saw us; she collected the sheet of paper from me and glanced at it.

Jesu Christi o! She screamed; ‘A’ parallel! How come? Come! Come! Come! She hugged me and congratulated me. Wow! Congratulations BJ! You are indeed a genius! She said. My joy was indescribable. What remained then was my JAMB result. I had opted to study electrical and electronics engineering at the federal university of technology Owerri . Mr. Adegoke said that F.U.T.O was one of the best universities to study electrical engineering in Nigeria. I was optimistic that I would also do well.

 

Two months later, the result of the JAMB examination came out and I scored far above the cut off point for electrical and electronics engineering department.

 

The day that Mr. Goke brought home my admission letter from his mail box was the day some banks in Nigeria were announced to have gone distressed and it included the bank that granted me scholarship from secondary to university level, and even promised me a job upon graduation.

All the branches of the bank in Ibadan were sealed up. Security men were detailed at the banks to prevent people that have converged at the banks from having access to the few staff available at the bank. Mr. Goke took two days off work and together we traveled to the head office of the bank at Akure city. We met some officials at the bank and when we presented my case, we were told that the bank had seized to exist as a corporate entity, in other words, the bank is dead! The bank has no obligation to anything or anybody until the courts say otherwise. We returned to Ibadan exhausted and disappointed. Even Mr. Goke for the first time since I met him lacked words to use and encourage me as I cried. He allowed me to cry.

 

It was hard to imagine how my hope that was raised so high was squashed and my life was turning into a quagmire of sadness and confusion. Where do I go next? What do I do? Mr. Adegoke was just managing with his nuclear family and still sponsoring himself at school. I could not afford to be an additional burden to him, he cannot sponsor me in school for he does not have the resources.

 

I fell sick; I was hospitalized and discharged after five days at the hospital. I lost hope, I lost appetite and I lost the zeal to move on. After struggling and burning my candles at both ends in order to gain admission into the university, here I am with no means to survive in the university.

 

I was fully recovered two months going when Mr. Goke woke me up from sleep in the middle of the night and told me to prepare to leave for Owerri in the morning.

He said I should take my destiny in my hands and move on to face the world. He brought out some money and gave to me. It was the money I realized four years ago when I sold of grandma’s properties. I had given it to him for safe keeping but I assumed he must have spent it all these years while taking care of me in his house.

 

Take this money and go to Owerri to claim your destiny! Do not allow any obstacle or force on earth to stop you from being the man God has made you to be. Just go and get your self registered first! Then look around you and find a means of survival. You could survive by teaching your fellow students and helping them in assignments and projects! Write to me regularly and let me know how you are doing, my wife and I will always pray for you. I do not have money to give to you but take my advice seriously and dare to succeed.

“Dare to succeed” that was why I left Ibadan the next day and traveled all the way down to the eastern part of Nigeria on my own. To dare to succeed!