Posted in Prose, Stories

The Abandoned Child

CHAPTER 20

 

I came alive with this throbbing piercing pain on my shoulders, I cried out and opened my eyes. Everywhere was blurry at first, and then I could see light. I sneezed severally before I noticed the person standing by my bed. Even sneezing was painful.

“Sorry. Relax! Relax!” He said as he touched my body and checked my vital signs. He opened my eyelids and pointed some luminous instrument into my eyes, and he felt for my pulse as some other person joined him.

“Is he back?”

“Yes! He pulled through!”

“Wow! Thank God o! After five months in coma!”

“God still has use of him”

“God or Satan?”

“Well, it is God that gives life!”

“Let’s hope he will change for good”

“We don’t know him yet!”

“What else do you need to know other than he must be an escaped criminal? A fugitive! Let us call the Police now that he is conscious!”

“The Police? Have you forgotten this is a naval base? ”

“Ehen? Is it not the police’s job to handle such matters?”

“Then, it is not your responsibility to call the police! The Commandant is interested in this matter! The United nation’s attaché that brought him here is interested in him also so please hold your peace!”

“No, please! No police!” I interrupted their discussion. “The Police will kill me!”

“Why?” One of them asked.

“They did this to me!” I wailed.

“What? The Police did this to you?”

“Yes!” I managed to say before I fell into another long sleep.

I spent a total of six months at Owerrinta naval training school hospital. The Naval patrol had picked my body up from the popular “Boro Pit” along Aba-Port Harcourt express road. Some scavengers picking items for recycling from the refuse dump had seen that I was still breathing, and then they alerted the patrol that happened to drive by at that time. It was about 3.00AM. The Navy had put me in their van and taken me to the emergency ward of their hospital. They said I was naked and battered like a thief who escaped being mauled by a group of frantic and angry community youths. There was a bullet wound on my stomach.

The police that arrested me had driven my body all the way from Owerri to Aba and dumped into the Boro pit to rot,

I told the commandant of the base the story of my life, from my birth to my death, and then he told me my story from my death to my resurrection.

He said I was taken to the ICU immediately they brought me to the hospital that morning around 3.40AM. My intestine was popping out from my stomach, and I was a complete mess. No normal hospital would have accepted to treat me but for a military facility or a teaching hospital. They had cleaned and patched me up. My joints were broken, and my shoulders pulled from the sockets with torn ligaments, my penis was like a ball of grape, it was swollen and scorched. My buttocks and thighs were swollen with deep razor blade cuts and scorched with an electric iron. My back and stomach were not spared of the same treatment. I was better left for dead! There were sores all over my body, and they cleaned me up every day, I was put on oxygen life support when I developed a fever and became very ill while I was still unconscious in the bed.

Commodore Aboderin told me that I was actually saved by a UN attaché, who was working with the Patrol team that night. The attaché was in Nigeria, Aba to be precise, to monitor the activities of the Bakassi boys at curbing crime in Abia State. It was the foreigner that insisted that I was brought to the naval hospital for treatment even though the naval officers in the van had told her that I was a criminal caught and tried by the Bakassi Boys. She had told them that my case was not similar to the way Bakassi Boys treated thieves. The Bakassi boys would tie up the thief, cut him or her into pieces, and then burn off the body. She said that I was a victim of jungle justice.

The commandant said I was very fortunate because many people have died innocently in the hands of some unscrupulous members of the Nigerian Police.

I poured out my concerns to the commandant. What would have happened to me if the Scavengers had not discovered my body that morning? What if it had rained heavily that night while I was lying in refuse dump dying? What if the pigs and dogs that roam at the refuse dump had gotten there before the scavengers? With my intestines popping out of my stomach? What if the Vultures had gotten to my body first? It was even possible for head hunters for ritual purposes or any of their suppliers to have gotten to the dump that morning and found my body. It was by the mercies of God that I had come out of the police brutality alive.

I could not really place how everything happened because it happened so fast simultaneously. I was not given a chance to defend myself; the police station was a torture zone for the fact that they have such a room at the station that was soundproof. The Police Officers had tortured to kill me, and they eventually shot me in the stomach and disposed of my body. In my presence, I saw the dangling body of another of their victim tortured to death. They would also dispose of such body! Does it mean no one ask them questions? My case was peculiar because no one would have asked for me. Mr Adegoke would be waiting forever to hear from me, and if he did not hear from me after several years, he would assume I have abandoned him to be on my own. My Yemisi would assume that was the way of men and their sweet talk. I would simply have disappeared just as many others must have been made to disappear by the police. This was jungle justice.

It was the third quarter of 1987; I was twenty-eight years old, and my mates were already into the NYSC programme. This was not the situation I had expected to find myself in life. I knew my call up letter must have gone back to Abuja. My friends and well-wishers would have expected to know where I was posted to for the service year. My so-called friends at the hotel had betrayed me. I was not given a fair hearing as their minds had been poisoned against me even before I returned from home.

Oga Dan had gone to call the Police when he excused himself for five minutes during our discussion in his office. Oga Dan could have told me that I was wanted by the police so that I could run away or find a way to go and explain myself at the station. I would have called Mr. Goke via any of the NITEL payphone centres springing up in the country and explain the situation of things to him. He would have advised me or come down to follow me to the station. I just kept ranting and repeating myself until the commander asked me a simple question.

“Would you like to join the military?” He asked.

I was surprised because I was not talking in that direction. I was tongue-tied at first.

“Would you?” He asked again

“Sir! I am a graduate of Electrical and electronics engineering. I would love to practice my profession, sir! I have never in my life thought of the military as a career!”

“I am also a mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Ife, and I am practising my profession in the Navy! In fact, there is no better place to practice your profession than the military. Be you a Doctor, a Lawyer, a musician, a tailor or bricklayer. There is a place for everyone in the military. We do our things ourselves here by using our professionals”.

“Sir! I heard it is a very tough and rigorous process to join the military”, I asked.

“You have been through tougher experience lately! Look! I like you and would love to help you; the present GOC of the 82nd Division is a very good friend and colleague of mine. He has given me one slot to present a candidate on his behalf at the next Officer Cadet short service commission next month”.

“Ha! Sir, I am yet to go for my youth service! Won’t the certificate be necessary?” I asked

“By then, you will be serving as a Soldier and will apply for an exception from the NYSC”, he said.

“Ha! Sir, I don’t know how to thank you o!” I got up and prostrated before him. “God will bless you, sir! May your children meet with divine favour where ever they may be sir!”

“Amen! Stand up please!” He said.

“I don’t know what next to do sir, but one thing for certain is that I need to go to the hotel and retrieve my belongings then I need to go to school for my clearance and my result. I will also need to rent a temporal apartment as I sort myself together! I need some time to think about my new life! The twist in my life is so sudden that I still feel like I am in a dream world”.

“No problem, Bolaji. Take everything step by step. You can use a room at my BQ while you tie up loose ends in your life. I have no doubt about your integrity because from all the information our intelligence unit gathered about you, you have been set up!”

“Oh! You investigated me?” I asked

“We are not stupid! We are the navy!” He said

“Wow! Did you find out about the girls in my life?” I asked shyly.

“Chioma, Katherine, and Theresa? Even the Amara that is dying for you!” he said

“Ha! Jesu Christi o! You people have exposed me o!”

“We think Chioma set you up! Her boyfriend or do I say the former boyfriend was killed along with your friend DJ Slam. It is complicated sha! But we are still working on certain links and the less you know the better. I am offering to help you as an act of service to God and man! If a foreigner could help to save your life as a black man, then I should do more for you as a black brother and fellow Yoruba. I will assign one of my boys to follow you to the hospital for a check-up, then he will drive you to Owerri, he will be with you until you go to NDA next month”.

I prostrated again. “Ese pupo! Sir! Thank you so much, sir!”

 

The hotel was quiet when we got there at 10:00 AM, I had been wearing the same clothes for over a week, and I don’t even know who bought the dress for me. I needed access to my clothes. The Orderly assigned to me parked the Toyota Avensis 2.2 at the parking lot, and together we went upstairs to Oga Dan’s office. The Orderly kicked the door with his boot as I was about knocking and the door flung inwards startling Oga Dan and the lady sitting on his laps with her breast over his face. It was Chioma sitting on Oga Dan’s laps with her blouse unbuttoned. She jumped out of her skin as she saw me.

“Ghost o! Ghost o! You are dead! You are dead!” She screamed, pointing at me and cowering beside the refrigerator in the office

“How can? Oga Dan asked. “But you were dead! I saw the picture of your battered corpse!”

“Is that why you are putting on my clothes?” I asked. “You are wearing a dead man’s clothes!”

He hurriedly pulled off everything he wore save for his boxers.

“Please take your clothes if it is what you have come for! I have no hand in your death!” He said, throwing my clothes towards me.

“Put my clothes in my bag and give me the keys to where ever you kept my belongings, I have come to pack my things!”

“Em em, your things are no longer in the hotel! We shared everything amongst ourselves when the police said you were dead!”

“What? The Orderly shouted. “You mean that you people shared his property without his family’s consent? Is that what he wrote in his will?”

“No sir!” Oga Dan said. “But please is this man dead or not?”

“I am not dead, Oga Dan! Your plans failed! God came to my rescue for I am more than a conqueror!”

I didn’t even believe I could use that biblical phrase, though it suited the situation at hand. It was at this point that Chioma came under the attack of an epileptic seizure; she started to shake and contort as she fell to the ground.

“Help me! Help me help her!” Oga Dan shouted.

“Leave her! I said. “Just get a metal spoon and put between her teeth then hold her in position until she calms down”.

“Is that all? Will that do?” Oga Dan asked nervously as he got a spoon from inside the refrigerator and forced it between Chioma’s clenched teeth. He held onto her as she convulsed for fifteen minutes before she was relieved.

By this time, some of the staff of the hotel had come into the office. Oga Dan was half-naked wearing only his boxers while Chioma was in his arms with her blouse opened, exposing her breast. I looked up at the cabinet in Oga Dan’s office and saw my travelling bag there, the one I returned from home with on the day of my arrest. I brought it down. My documents were intact.

Chioma got hold of herself and started to dress up shamefully.

“Oga Dan and Chioma!” I called.” How on earth did the two of you start to date each other? My two good friends! I can’t understand!”

“It is Chioma o! BJ, believe me it was Chioma that told me that you were a cultist and was involved in the death of DJ Slam. She also testified to the Police that you were on the run. Even when you died, it was Chioma that that told me that you have no relations that would come for your property; that was why I shared it”, Oga Dan confessed.

“Chioma! Is it true?” I asked. “Am I a cultist? Did Slam himself not tell you that I was a Jew man? What did I do to you to set me up even unto my death? And now you are sleeping with my boss? Chioma!”

“You were sleeping with my friends!” She snapped.

“Oh! Is that it? The truth is that all of you are the same! You and your friends are a rotten lot! Your friends came after me when you left me because I refused to buy the car for you! I begged you severally to no avail so you have no right to be jealous that I was sleeping with your friends! So, is that why you set me up? To the extent that I was killed by the police and it does not bother you? Let me show you something”.

I unbuttoned my shirt and pulled off my singlet, everyone in the office screamed. I pulled off my shoes and pulled down my trousers then I pulled my boxers up to reveal the scars on my thighs.

This is what the police did to me! I turned around for everyone to see. Someone pushed her way to the front of the small crowd in the office. It was Amara. She screamed when she saw me, she closed her mouth with her hands when she saw my battered body and sank to the floor.

I continued. “I was arrested for no just cause! I was cuffed and hung from the ceiling naked. I was flogged continuously for one hour! I was burnt all over with pressing iron! My ankles and my knees were dislocated with a hammer! I was slashed with razor blades, and the wounds stashed with red hot paper for no just cause! They used pliers to break the small bones on my feet. I cried, I screamed!  I begged, but no help came! My shoulder was pulled from my body! Then I was shot in the stomach! My intestines came out! Then I was carried all the way to Boro pit in Aba to die!”

“Who did this to you? Who did this to you, BJ? Amara rose and came over to me, crying.
“They said you were dead! They said you were a cultist! They said you killed Slam, but I did not believe them! I did not know where to find you, but I did not believe them! Then, I heard you were arrested and have been killed too! I was confused! Oh my God so you are alive! Who did you offend?” She wailed.

“Your brother and his girlfriend set me up, Amara!”

“What?” She was shocked. “My brother? And his girlfriend? Which of his girlfriends?”

“Look at them standing together!” I said.

“What? This girl? Your former girlfriend?”

“Yes!” I said

“How? Brother why?” Amara asked

“It is the girl that deceived me, Amara! She had a hidden agenda and scores to settle with BJ. So, she used me!”

“And at your age you allowed this common prostitute to use you? I have not liked this girl from day one! I knew she was dangerous, but I could not tell you, BJ. I told Slam, but I could not tell you!” Amara said.

“DJ Slam told me! In fact, he told me everything you wanted to tell me, but I was a fool not to be able to read between the lines”.

“Ha! Human beings are wicked o!” Amara faced her brother and Chioma. “Look at somebody’s child! Look! Look! What you people did to him! Look at scars on a human being’s body? Can these scars ever wipe off for life? Look at the bullet wound on his stomach! And you people have the temerity to sleep with each other after killing him? God! Human beings! And brother, why are you naked? What is wrong with you?”

“He was wearing my clothes!” I said. “Everything he wore was mine except for the boxers. He thought I was a ghost when I entered his office, so he pulled off my clothes as if it was what I had come back for!”

“Nonsense!” Amara exclaimed as she packed the clothes her brother pulled and put them back in my bag. “Put on your clothes BJ and let’s get out of here! God will judge these people! Let’s leave them for God!”

“Leave who for God? The Orderly who has been quiet all the while shouted. Oya two of you, forward March to the base! When we reach base, then una go sabi the difference between the Police and the navy!

 

 

The Abandoned Child new cover

Posted in Prose, Stories

The Abandoned Child: Chapter 17

The Abandoned Child new cover

CHAPTER 17

 

I took a short vacation and travelled west. It was an impromptu decision I took after reading the last letter from Uncle Goke. I felt homesick. I was done with every academic activity except for my clearance that would be done before the NYSC programme. The only people I told about my journey were Oga Dan and the Manager of Vita Logistics. DJ Slam was away on political rally; he mobilised bodyguards for some politicians and had to be on ground to keep his dogs under tight leashes.

My first point of call was at Mr Goke’s house at Ibadan, a four-bedroom bungalow with a two-room boys quarters at Apata area of the city. He lectured at the sociology department of the University of Ibadan. He also owned two hectares of land along old Ife road where he farms. He went there on public holidays and weekends.

He was visibly surprised at the transformation he saw in me. I had grown taller and muscular compared to how I was five years before.

His first child, Oluwayemisi, had gained admission into the University of Ife and was away at school when I came. The son was in final year in secondary school, and the wife runs a Grocery shop built at the front of his house.

When I got there, I helped out the little way I could. I was with Madam at her shop after all morning chores, and Mr Goke had gone to work and the son to school. Madam left the shop at mid-day to the popular Dugbe market to replenish her stock. I was with the two paid sales girls she employed at the shop. Customers were trooping in and out of the shop from morning till evening. It was more hectic in the evening because the house was strategically located at a junction of three streets and as such returnees from work made their last-minute purchases at the shop before getting to their homes after the days’ activities.

Mr Goke had three cars in his compound- the Mitsubishi L200 Van used by the wife for her business, a Toyota RAV 4 used privately by the wife and a Toyota Camry 2. 2 used by him. I was proud of him as he had steadily climbed up the success ladder over the years. In fact, he had even developed a budding pot belly. He neither drank alcohol nor smoked but he entertained me with my Ultimate Lager when I came around. His wife sold chilled beverages in her shop.

I got to his house on a Thursday evening; I rested on Friday though I helped out at Madam’s shop then on Saturday we went to the farm with his son, Gbadebo. When we got to the farm, we changed into farm clothes. I wore an old cloth of his though it was undersized. It suited the purpose; we went plucking ripe maize and cutting down the stem of the plant. We later went to the Wife’s Garden and plucked ripe Okra, pepper, and vegetables. The harvest was reasonably large because the back of the Mitsubishi Van we went with was full.

After working for three hours, we settled down and roasted some fresh maize. We made a big fire and threw the maize in it without peeling off the husk. The fire cooked and roasted the maize, and then we peeled off the burnt husk, revealing well-cooked and delicious fresh maize grain. I ate six ears of maize and I was full. We drank from the chilled water bottle we brought from home before proceeding on the second round of work which was tidying up the farm and the area we cooked. We gathered all the maize stems that we cut down and the husks of the maize we ate and kept them on a plain ground to dry up for burning by the next visit to the farm. This would allow enough air into the farmland for other crops to thrive.

We got back home around 4:00 PM and went to offload our harvest at Madam’s shop. She immediately displayed the maize and vegetables in smaller portions on a table outside her shop. She sold off everything before retiring into the house at 8:00 PM. People returning home from work in the evening bought off the fresh farm produce. Madam shared the proceeds of the sale into two and gave her husband a portion. That is how they live their lives; there was mutual love and understanding. Uncle Goke then gave Gbadebo his pocket money out of the money. He offered me some money, but I declined. He was feeding me free of charge already. I owe this man my status today.

I left for Ijan, Ekiti on Saturday morning to return to Ibadan in four days before going back to the east.

My house was as I had left it. I had to break the padlock because I had lost the key. I got there at 9:00 AM and started to clean up until the afternoon. There were dust and thick cobwebs all over the place. I opened all doors and windows as I cleaned

Villagers came around when they noticed that someone was in the house. Everyone that saw me screamed out their surprise at how much I have grown over the years. My physical features had changed, save for my face. I left as a boy and returned as a man.

On Monday morning I went to my land. The two plots given to me by the community some years back. It has been left uncared for all this while and had been overgrown by trees and weed. I decided to keep myself busy while at home by clearing the land and fencing it.

I went around my home town. Some of the old butchers were still alive and selling. I saw some urchins on standby waiting for the butchers to throw something away. I greeted the butchers; they were happy to see me. The old women that sold vegetables and fruits remembered me and prayed for me as I gave them some money.

I went to greet Modupe’s Landlord “Baba Landlord”, who happened to be my namesake. Another tenant had taken over Modupe’s house. He was very surprised by my transformation. He asked if I ever ran into any member of Modupe’s family. I said no. He sent some fresh curses to them where ever they were, and I said, “Amen”.

Akin, Modupe’s boyfriend years back came to my house the next day Tuesday. I was at my plot of land working in the company of Tunde, a young Lad that was born just before I left for secondary school years back. He was the grandson of Baba landlord and had taken an immediate liking to me. He saw me going out of my house with my cutlass in the morning and had run to pick up his own cutlass to join me; he thought I was going to farm. He was named Babatunde then because he was born a day after his father died. The pregnant mother had cardiac arrest during her labour due to high blood pressure which had led to the caesarean section that produced him. He had been with his grandfather since then. He did not suck his mother’s breast. Baba Landlord has three daughters while in active service. His wife had died of cancer several years back, and he lost his first daughter who gave birth to Tunde. The other two daughters were in their husbands’ houses.

Things were not too rosy for Akin. His influential father had died six years back, and his wealth shared amongst relatives. Akin did not get much. He had graduated about three years back but was yet to get a job. None of his father’s acquaintances could help him. He had believed so much that his father’s connections would pave the way for him. He was disappointed in the city, so he had come back home to farm. And since he could not farm alone, he had put a young girl in the family way; at least, life must go on! He had said.

He apologised to me for taking sides with Modupe years back when we had a quarrel. He said Modupe and her family had relocated to Lagos with my money. Modupe gained admission into the University of Lagos to study secretariat studies while the mother shuttled between Nigeria and Dubai for business. He said they lived in Amuwo Odofin estate. He could not continue his relationship with Dupe after the death of his father because he was short of cash and could not continue to service the extravagant lifestyle he was living with Dupe. He was ashamed of himself as Modupe was then a Lagos girl with high taste and expectations.

He went to my house to get a cutlass, and together, the three of us worked on my land until the evening. We retired to my house and took our baths. I sent Tunde to buy a gallon of palm wine from “Baba Elemu”, the wine Taper. We sat outside the house on the terrace drinking and gisting, and before long there were about ten youths drinking and gisting. Baba Landlord joined us later with an additional gallon of freshly tapped wine.

Akin reminded the small forum to stop referring to me as Bolaji but Engineer. He told them it was not a small feat to achieve while Baba landlord went into a storytelling session about the white man’s technology called engineering. He held the listeners spellbound with lies that sounded like facts to my hearing.

Baba landlord was a police officer that had worked in several Cities before retiring in Lagos as a superintendent. He built his houses while still in service, and till date, his detractors said he built the houses out of bribe money called “egunje

Every time he told a lie that surprised the small audience, and they exclaimed their disbelief, he told them to confirm from me. I simply said “beeni” it is so! Everyone was high on palm wine and would not remember the discussion by the next day. Akin was just enjoying himself laughing at their gullibility.

By Friday, the two plots of land were cleared. My friends that came to drink at my house all turned up with their Machetes the next morning, and we descended on the land, cutting down and uprooting trees. Of course, at night we drank ourselves into the night again, and this time, there was bush meat and some village girls too to spice up the forum. Three girls joined us from nowhere. These were girls that have had at least two kids in their father’s house and were ready to go home with any man as long as you could buy them drink and food and give them a little change to fend for their Kids.

I called a bricklayer to build a fence around the two plots of land while I contracted a local welder to build a gate for me. He was happy to charge me half of the amount I had expected to be charged for the job.

There were no more innocent girls in the village. All the little girls I left in the village had become baby mamas to some elusive boys. They roamed the village with their babies strapped to their backs while their boyfriends eke out their living by riding commercial motorcycles in Ado Ekiti, the capital City. Their only hope was to be married eventually to a widower or to be the second wife to a local rich farmer. It was sad to see how low our girls had degenerated.

They were shy to come to my house for fear of being ridiculed by the elderly, especially Baba Landlord, who has made my veranda his resting place in the afternoon, drinking palm wine until evening.

The new house built for me after the Alabi’s gang incident had an extended terrace where one could sit and relax while watching passers-by as they go to or return from their farms or market. It was a four-bedroom bungalow built with modern architecture and the first of its kind in my village. The floors of all the rooms were tiled wall to wall; the walls of the kitchen and the convenience rooms were all tiled. A well was also dug at the back of the house during the construction of the house. I bought a pumping machine and mounted a GP tank so that I could have access to water in my house as the plumbing job was properly done by the builders. I also bought some electronic gadgets and a medium-sized power generator to augment the inherent epileptic power supply. So, my house was always full whenever there was a power outage while an important programme was being telecast on TV, especially football matches.

My villagers were poor people, as we were basically peasant farmers. Money was very scarce, and on seeing the way and manner in which I was living in the village, they thought I was a rich man. Apart from those very close to me, none knew much about my life achievement and what I had been through in life. They saw the young boy that was given money by community and government years ago, a young boy that was given scholarship to university level and a good job waiting for him. So, they came to me with varied problems.

Some widows would come to my house very early in the morning to beg for money to feed or pay their children’s school fees. Some young baby mamas would stalk me till I was alone or when I am with Tunde alone. Then, they would fall on their knees, begging for assistance to start a business that could help them carter for their children’s needs. Many of the baby mamas had learnt one trade or the other but needed money to buy sewing machines, weaving machines, hair drier; the list was endless. I was helping everyone that came to me for help, and the news went viral throughout the Village and neighbouring communities that a philanthropist has arrived.

It was Baba landlord that spoke some senses to me.

“My son!” He had said while we were seated outside my house drinking palm wine mixed with legend extra stout. “A fool and his money are soon parted!”

“Meaning what, sir?” I asked.

“Our people are not good! They will milk you dry! In the end, when you are broke, they will say “we wonder what the fool did with his money”! It is good to help people; it is very, very good! But you must help yourself first! Not all of these people that come to you for help actually need help! Some are pathologically lazy and have refused to help themselves because they leach on people like you!”

“Have you started working?”

“No, sir!” I replied

“Then why are you spending money on people like you are working and your salary is in seven digits? And from my findings, you have not even gone for your NYSC programme!”

“Yes, I have not gone, sir!” I replied

You worked hard to train yourself in school. You disciplined yourself to save up some money! Not so?”

“That is correct, sir!”

“How many of these villagers that you are dashing out your money to would do what you are doing, having gone through what you have been through in life? Our people say that “it is the oily fingers that people will lick with you! Not the bloodied one” when you were toiling, no one was there! That is why you see that I buy my palm wine while coming to sit down here with you! I hate parasitic human beings! They will ruin you! For your information, my finding is that most of these villagers did not even know that you lost everything to Modupe and her mother; they did not know that you lost the scholarship due to the bank collapse years back! When they come to you, they come with the mindset of reaping from what the government has planted in one of theirs! They say it is government money! Our money!”

“Jesu Christi o!” I shouted. I was shocked.

“Look! I am a pensioner in this village, but nobody can come to me for any yeye help because we know ourselves. How can you come to me for money when I know you have a well-to-do son in Lagos or in Port Harcourt? How can you come to me when I had seen you and warned you to stop frolicking with a never-do-well boy that keeps pressing your breast under the orange tree every night until he impregnated you and left the village to ride Okada in Ado Ekiti? I know something about everyone in this village. That does not mean I do not help o! I do! I help those hospitalised that needs genuine financial assistance. I help those in need and not those in want!”

“Ha! Baba, I am short of words”, I said.

“Don’t worry, my son!” He said. “Just be cautious and learn to sometimes say no!”

My money was, indeed running low. It was time to leave the village. I had planned spending a week in the village, but I ended up spending two months. Village life was very exciting especially when you have some money in your pocket.

I gave Akin some money to start a small business. He wanted to go into trading cocoa. I reminded him to be careful not to end up like the legendary Alabi. I gave Baba Landlord some money too, but he refused until I told him it was for Tunde’s education and upkeep. He collected it and prayed for me. He said he felt he owe me something. He said he had gone to Lagos severally to help track down my mother to no avail before he gave up hope. He asked if she ever contacted me. I said I never met her and if I do I would not have known. He said there are things he needed to tell me about her, but I told him I was not interested, I told him to take care of Tunde. I had agreed with him that Tunde will move in with me immediately I settle down. That was when he told me that “a man can never fully settle down until the day he dies”!

 

Posted in Prose, Stories

The Abandoned Child : Chapter 16

The Abandoned Child new cover

CHAPTER 16

 

Final semester in FUTO, I was on my project writing which involved a lot of researches. I had to visit several libraries and nearby higher institutions to get materials for my project. I choose a fresh topic for my project, and as such I have a lot of inputs to make.

The strain in my relationship with Chioma deepened and after several visits to make her see reasons proved abortive, I had to focus more on other things. Moreover, Katty and Tessy were taking her space. She said I was uncaring and selfish; she accused me of being stingy and lots more.

Well, my relationship with Tessy started on one of the days I went to plead with her. She was not at home, but Tessy attended to me. I explained my position on our issue to Tessy, and she saw reasons with me. She said I should move on with my life and get another girl that would be more appreciative and understanding, a girl that could give me double of the attention and care Chioma was giving me, a girl that does not want my money, a girl like her!

I was not surprised. DJ Slam had prophesied it. She slept in my room that night, and it was one hell of a night!

The next morning was a Saturday, and we were cleaning the hotel premises when I gave Slam the gist of who slept my room the previous night. He laughed and jumped about, and then he came and gave me a handshake and said, “Welcome to Owerri” the “O” town! Na now you dey do like a guy! Just dey wire dem de go! BJ, the bad guy! Now, na Amara remain o! You got to wire Amara so that the equations go complete!”

“Which yeye equation be that?” I asked.

“Omo, my Man!” He saw Emeka walking by, and he called him. “Mekus “lekwa”! Omo Yoruba a bukwa a very bad nigga! You are here selling beer while Omo is here eating all the meat!” He laughed hysterically and hugged me. I grunted.

Nna, men! You have made me proud today omo.”

“Ogini k’a, Omo mere? What did he do?” Emeka asked.

“Look at you! So you want to know? Jew man! Common get away from here! Go and bring your sister so Omo can show you what he did!” He rebuked Emeka.

“DJ Slam, please stop insulting me! You were the one that called my attention to your gist!” Emeka said.

“Who is insulting you? Have you been drinking soured beer so early in the day? Or don’t you know your mates again? Common si ebe a puta kita! Get out from here! Small boy! I invited you to a senior joke, and you are already feeling like a senior boy!”

“Is that why you said I should give him my sister?” Emeka countered

“Oh! Is that your problem? Okay, don’t give him your sister! Give him your mother!” DJ Slam said.

“Chineke mee! Mma m? My mother? DJ, Mmam? I will report you to manager today! Emeka ran off, crying towards Oga Dan’s room upstairs. He did not know that Oga Dan had travelled to Enugu the previous evening.

“Look at him, whining like a baby!” Slam said after him. “Small boy!”

He was so happy, and I could not help feeling like I did something heroic though I don’t revel in such things.

I defended my project on the 17th of October 1986. I was twenty-seven. It was a memorable day. As I came out of the project defence hall to the open field where students were gathered rejoicing, I was immediately picked up by my friends. I was raised up high and carried to the centre of the field, where DJ Slam was waiting with his instrument in his car boot blaring aloud. I was stripped to my boxers alone and bathed with wine, water, and beer. Some guys pulled off their belts and whipped me. It was the ritual and was fun. Every other student that defended their project joined the party as they came out of the hall.

Amara was around to congratulate me. Katty left her school to FUTO to rejoice with me. Chioma was invited by Slam, but she did not turn up. She was the one that told her friends, and Katty alone came.

We moved the party from the school arena only to join another party being arranged in my honour by Oga Dan and the management of Vita Logistics and Construction Company. It was crazy; I was bathed over and over with alcohol. There was enough to eat and drink. I woke up the next morning in DJ Slams’ bed with Katty and Tessy by my side. We were stark unclad. Till date, I cannot remember how that happened, but one thing I know for sure was that it was one hell of a night.

Two weeks after my project defence, I was summoned by the school’s senate board to defend my result. I got a cumulative average of 4.68- First class. It was not difficult defending my result because I worked hard for it. I demonstrated complete theoretical and practical competence expected of an electrical engineering graduate, and I impressed all the academic professors and Doctors on the board. I was adjudged the overall best graduating student, and I set a new record in the department of electrical electronics engineering. I left the office walking in the air.

I wrote a letter to my mentor and gave him an update of happenings in my life. I continued working at the hotel as an all-rounder. By this time, my proficiency in Igbo language had improved tremendously. Katty and Tessy were still friends, and they shared my bed individually. I still wondered what they did to me on my project defence night. Chioma had finally abandoned me because I refused to part with a huge sum of money and buy her a car.

Amara, on the other hand, was still crazy over me. I do not love her. Even Tessy and Katty were mere bed mates with a mutual understanding of the limits of our relationship. My hand was full already, and I was not ready to add Amara to the mix. This was the scenario I painted to DJ Slam inside his cubicle on a certain night while he was entertaining our guests at the Bush Bar.

“Why you no just wire Amara so that her body go calm down?” He asked

“Haba! Slam!” I protested. “Why your own no dey pass to wire? You mean I should take advantage of the girl’s love for me?” I asked

“Who tell you say she love you? He asked. “Ever heard of the word infatuation? She just wants to wire you! So, wire her!”

“How you take sabi say na wire she wan wire me?” I asked.

“Listen, BJ! She knows you and Chioma have issues now and she is not happy that Chioma’s friends are closing in on you. It would have been her opportunity to get you! Look! Don’t be a Jew! Wire her! You don’t even need to toast her. Just grab her hand and say; Amara follow me! And you will see how she will follow you like mumu to your room! The girl dey melt for you my guy!”

“Slam, abeg, my hand don full already! I no want any more girls! I said

“Stupid Jew man! So all these your muscle and six-packs na for fashion! I beg, come wear headphone biko make I go ease myself!” He handed the headphone to me and left the cubicle while I took over the wheel of steel mixing sounds to the people’s delight.

Luckily, I got another letter from Mr Goke, and that helped me to retrace my steps. He wrote in his letter that I have graduated with the prospect of a good job at sight. He said I should not rest on my oars. He wrote that I should not forget where I came from. He reminded me of my home town, of my mother whom I do not know, of my house in the village and of the need for a serious relationship with a responsible girl, who would love me for who I am and not for what I would become. He reminded me of Modupe and her mother. His letter took me back through memory lane as I reflected back on my secondary school days when Modupe made school unbearable for me.

I remembered my dog, Pharaoh that was beheaded in his sleep. What a way to die! I reflected on the adventures I had with Pharaoh as a partner, how we had scavenged, how we hunted together and slept on the same mat back then. I remember the house on the hilltop, Alabi and his family, and the encounter with Baba Oloro. I remembered my village in the suburb of Ekiti land.

So many years had passed. I left the village a seventeen-year-old lad, and now I am twenty-seven. A full-grown man with prospects. I could now fluently speak English and Igbo languages and I am an Engineer. I really have weathered the storm and all thanks to my mentor that brought out the best in me by didactic words of encouragement! He challenged me years back! He dared me to change my life situation and make a name for myself. I smiled as I imagined that I, Bolaji will now be referred to as Engineer Bolaji. I went through school and of course school went through me. It felt good, but I felt a vacuum still needed to be filled in my life. My mother was still aloof. I never knew my father or his background. Am I biologically Yoruba? Where is the man that impregnated my mother from? How absurd it would be if I finally find out that I am not a Yoruba boy? There are some tribes I never wished to come from. I could even be from one of these small neighbouring countries.

 

 

 

Posted in Prose, Stories

The Abandoned Child: Chapter 15

The Abandoned Child new cover

CHAPTER 15

 

As time went by, I had to do my six months industrial attachment program, and fortunately for me, it coincided with the time of expansion and renovation of the Hotel.

I told Oga Dan about my IT program and my desire to work in an establishment I could put my learning into practice so he talked with the Contractor handling the renovation project and I was recruited as an IT student for six months. The company, “Vita Logistics” Limited was a building engineering company covering civil and electrical engineering works. I moved a lot with the company to their various project sites and participated in troubleshooting, maintenance, and installation of electrical and electronic appliances.

It was a big learning point for me for all I had learnt in school were brought to practice, and I even learnt some more. I always felt proud of working with my hand gloves and helmet on. I learnt about safety health and environment, and I attended several seminars and workshops under the auspices of the company. I never knew such emphasis was being placed on safety at the workplace.

I was so engrossed with the company that I barely had time for other activities; the company had a lot of ongoing projects with the government, so we travelled a lot. Many times, I slept outside Owerri due to job’s demand. Through the job, I visited the almighty “Garden City” of Port Harcourt for the first time. The GRA in that town does not sleep at night! We lodged at hotels in the GRA; our favourite was Bougainvillea Hotel at Sani Abacha road, which was busy twenty-four hours daily.

Once, we spent three months at a stretch without visiting Owerri. We were shuttling between Port Harcourt and Yenegoa town, working. I missed Chioma, the bar, and my Clippers. The only hair I cut within this period was mine and my colleagues with whom I travelled. Yet, I was happy with the work. Being called an Engineer gave me quite a satisfactory feeling.

The company paid us daily “out of Station” allowance. They catered for our accommodation and feeding and even paid for complimentary drinks in the fridges in our hotel rooms. We were treated like VIPs’. I had little or no use for money, so I had a lot of savings in my bank account.

After five months of industrial training, we finally came down to Owerri for a week recess. Immediately we parked our car at the Royal gardens hotel, I told the driver to take me to IMSU. I needed to see Chioma. He agreed to take me there after lunch; we arrived at the lunch hour.

I did not see him after lunch. He had run off to see his family too. Every one of us had been complaining about missing our loved ones.

Thus, I took a taxi cab to IMSU in the company of the Hotel’s DJ, DJ Slam, who happened to be a pretty popular student of IMSU too. He loved to wear dreadlocks and a stud on his left ear. I was dressed in a light blue jean and a lumberjack shirt on a black safety boot. DJ Slam’s dressing was indescribable. I can only say he was a crazy dresser, and he reminds me of the Nigerian Denrele Edun.

Chioma lost control when she saw us entering her classroom. She screamed my name from the back of the classroom. There was no lecture going on, and the class was a little rowdy as the students were rushing to submit an assignment to the class representative. She rushed towards me, pushing and apologising as she tore through the moving bodies in the classroom. I was grinning from ear to ear as she jumped into my open arms. I almost lost balance. We clung tight to each other tight and spun. She released me and gave Slam a brief hug then she came back into my arms.

“Let’s go to the joint!” Slam offered

“Can I come with my friends?” She asked. “They have been dying to meet you!

“Baby, you can come with the whole class!” Slam said. And we laughed.

“Yes, dear, call your friends!” I said, and she beckoned at two equally beautiful girls advancing towards us.

“Wow! Slam exclaimed; you go give me one of them o!”

“You?” Chioma asked.

“Yes, nah!” Slam replied.

“Tufiakwa!” I cannot give you my friend! If not for the fact that I know what linked you and Bolaji together, I will never come near you!” Chioma said.

We all laughed. I understood her fears, for DJ Slam was a really randy and bad guy.

I got to meet her friends, Tessy, and Katty, short for Teresa and Katherine. Together we spent the rest of the evening moving from one joint to another and ended up at Royal gardens at the end of the day. I went upstairs with Chioma, DJ Slam went to his room with Katty while Oga Dan went with Tessy.

 

My relationship with Chioma blossomed with time, and when I returned to school for my final year programme, we were well-known together. DJ Slam introduced me to her former cultist boyfriend, and we became friends, although the guy thought I belong to the same confraternity with Slam. In fact, people were suspicious of my relationship with DJ Slam outside the hotel that we worked.

DJ Slam happened to be an all-round bad guy in the city of Owerri. He was into partisan politics as he organised thugs and bodyguards for politicians during campaigns. They indulged in stealing ballot boxes and eliminating rivals of their sponsors by any means. He was also a pimp. He organised campus babes for the politicians, and he got his cuts from the girls. He called his political godfathers his “Chairmen”. The campus girls that indulged in “runs” hailed Slam whenever they ran into him.

“O Slam o! O Slam o!” You hear them hail while he raised his hands up in acknowledgement.

“Yes o! Yes o!” He replied them.

Slam was also the conduit between many students who wanted to bribe any lecturer to inflate their examination scores. He also knew people in the exams and records department that could make a student’s file disappear forever. And to cap it all, he was the number two man of the neo black axe movement. Whenever I was with him, I had mixed feelings. Sometimes, I felt tough with him, and some other times I got jittery and scared. While on Campus, Slam was a wild creature, but when on the wheel of steel mixing sounds as a DJ he was very amiable. He was also called the cat with the nine lives. Having been a staunch member of the black axe from his year one till date, he had escaped many attempts on his life by rival cult sects and rival political thugs. The strongest weapon he had was his ears! He was well informed. His allies, girls, fellow cultist, and the call girls at the hotel all informed him of what went on in Owerri and beyond. A lot of people whispered things to him.

He always disappeared and reappeared when he was in school. His movements were never predictable. He changed his mind on decisions taken at the last minute without apologies for inconveniencies to others.

It was DJ Slam himself that convinced Chioma that I was still a Jew man and not a cultist when my friendship with him got so close and people had started to talk.

The truth was that I would have willingly joined the black axe if Slam had insisted because I was so much involved with the group that I even attended their parties, but Slam had other use for me. He was also an engineering student, and I did all his home works, assignments and examinations for him while I enjoyed his protection. We were in different schools, though, but we were all in the city of Owerri.

In my final year, I lived in the hotel. I still worked with the construction company and got paid every month. I still worked at the bar at night and had started mixing sounds too with the help of DJ Slam. So, I was like a utility staff at the hotel. I was useful in various departments as I also help out at the barbing salon and cleaning of the rooms and getting the laundry done.

My practical experience during my industrial training helped me immensely in my final year as it was as if I had done all that was being taught in school.

Second-semester final year, I wrote a long letter to Mr Adegoke, although I skipped any mention of DJ Slam in my letter. I was twenty-six years old and was doing well. I realised that I had over seven hundred thousand naira in my bank account. Suddenly, the desire to buy a car became strong. DJ Slam’s younger brother was based in Belgium and sends cars home for sale once in a while. Slam said I could get a clean Volkswagen gulf 4 for three hundred and fifty thousand naira.

I told Mr Adegoke about the car idea in the letter that I wrote to him. I also told him about Chioma and my increasing love for her.

In his reply a month later, he repeatedly warned me not to buy the car while still in school and while still working and living free of charge in the hotel. He said I might need the money after my National youth service scheme upon my graduation from school. He also said my buying a car would send the wrong signals.

About Chioma, he wished me well. He, however, said I should not be too emotionally involved so as not to lose concentration on my studies. He said I should keep saving my earnings for the rainy days. He said no amount of money was enough for one man. So, I should not think I have “arrived” because of a paltry seven hundred thousand naira. He wrote that my age mates working in oil firms earn twice that amount monthly, so what was the big deal?

He also warned me never to tell Chioma about the money I have in the bank because she was not my wife. He wrote that she could tell it to persons that might not have my interest at heart. Women like to show off with their men’s accomplishment. He also said she may not be experienced enough to advise me well.

The problem, however, was that I had shown Chioma my bank passbook and Chioma had told her friends about my desire to buy a car, she went further to tell them that I would buy her one too after my own.

And that had its own repercussion. Her friend, Katty, came visiting on an environmental sanitation Saturday morning. Chioma had travelled home to Enugu that weekend. We were downstairs at the hotel, cleaning the surrounding when she came, so she collected the key to my room and went upstairs.

After working for about three hours cleaning the environment, I went upstairs to clean up. The moment I opened my door and entered, I saw Katty on my bed, reading a book. I went straight into the bathroom to bath.

I came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around my waist and was shocked to see Katty standing before me completely nude. I opened my mouth to speak, and she quickly stepped forward and placed a finger over my lips. I was shocked, to say the least, and my mouth remained open with no sound coming out until she planted her mouth on mine and took my right hand to her breast.

Everything happened so fast. I was transfixed where I stood, trying to get control of myself, which was, unfortunately, responding swiftly to all her touch. When she pulled down my boxers, I was amazed at the massive and hard erection from my crotch. I knew instantly that I had fallen! And I allowed myself to fall further when she went on her knees.

DJ Slam was all laughs as I narrated my experience with Katty to him. He said Tessy would soon come for me, but I did not believe him, and I vowed to ensure it does not happen again with Katty or Tessy for that matter. I told him I would confess to Chioma, but he warned me never to try it.

“Old boy wetin dey do you?” He asked.  “You be woman wrapper?Why you dey talk like a Jew man so? Listen, make I tell you the truth Omo! Many babes dey die for you for this town o! Na me just dey discourage them by telling them say you be homo!”

“Wetin? I shouted. “You tell them, wetin?”

He laughed and said, ‘listen and let me tell you, Omo. Some of the babes you see around me at school or here in the hotel come to meet me in order to get to you, but you don’t seem to look their way and since I don’t want to get you so distracted, I simply tell them that you are gay and I end up sleeping with them!” He continued to laugh.

“Old boy this is not funny nah!” I said. “Of all excuses to give them, why tag me a yansh man? Couldn’t you have said I am not interested in women or something else?”

“Ehen! Listen to yourself now”, he roared. “You just said it now that you are not interested in women! If you are not interested in women, what would you be interested in? No be men?

He started to laugh again.

“That’s not what I mean, and you know it”, I said. “What of Chioma? Is she not a woman?”

“And that’s the problem! “He exclaimed. “Chioma! Chioma! Chioma! You go dey follow her up and down like dog dey follow small pikin wey want to shit for Village. Old boy, explore! Rule your world! See as you tall and fine! You come sabi book join am but you dey jones!”

“I no dey jones!” I countered

“Oh, you no dey jones? Simply because Chioma friend come wire you for your room you don dey feel say you too belong abi? If the girl no come to you, you for get the liver to toast her?” He said

Why I go toast her when I dey date her friend? Is it normal?” I asked

“Then, why she come wire you, notwithstanding say she be your babe friend? Why?” He asked

I no know!” I replied

“Why you go know? He said. “Jew man feeling funky! Omo, I beg make you wake up o! Na Owerri you dey o! No be Ekiti! For here we dey shine our eyes! Are you aware that Amara is dying to date you”? He asked.

“Amara? Which Amara?” I asked

“The same Amara wey dey come do holiday job for here nah! Oga Dan sister!” He said.

“Yee! I exclaimed; Oga Dan sister? Innocent Amara?”

“Come on, shut up ya mouth!” He said. “Wetin you mean by innocent?”

“Amara na good girl nah, everybody knows!” I said.

“Oh no! Oh no!” He exclaimed. “Bolaji you dey fall my hand! How could you be so gullible? There is no good girl or innocent girl anywhere these days. It died in the era of our forefathers!”

“Okay, no vex! I pleaded. “Ehen! Back to Amara issue, na who tell you say she like me? I asked

“She told me herself!” He said.

“Did you also tell her that I am gay?” I asked.

“No nah! She knows you are not, she knows you are dating Chioma!”

“Hmm, yet she still wants to date me?” I asked

“And you said she is innocent and good!” He replied. “Well, she believes that Chioma is a runs girl and not fit for you!”

“So, did you wire her too?” I asked.

“No! She won’t agree, she knows me very well”, he said

“But why she no tell me face to face nah?” I asked.

“You be Jew man nah!” Slam said. “How else you want make she take talk am? All the green lights wey she dey show you, you no fit to decode! Is it until she uses Katty’s style? Even before you started dating Chioma, that girl has been coming around you, flirting with you but you dey form good boy! Abi Amara no fine reach?”

“Haba! Amara na fine girl nah! But na my Oga Sister o!” I said

“And so what? Na Oga Dan go marry his sister? Abi Oga Dan no dey wire other people sisters?” He asked.

“Mba nu, Slam, Amara is like a sister to me I beg!” I said.

“Shattap ya Yoruba mgbati-mgbati mouth there!” He shouted. “Na wetin relate Amara with Bolaji? Wetin relate Ekiti and Enugu? Yeye jew man! No be only ya sister, na ya mama! Old boy, wake up nah!.

He sounded pissed with me.

“Kai! Kai! The girl fit don hate me now o!” I exclaimed.

“She can’t hate you, in fact, she does not hate you, and she was only disappointed in your taste!” Slam said.

“How nah? My taste how? Is Chioma not good enough? Chioma was not a runs girl nah, and you know it Slam! Why didn’t you tell her that Chioma was not a runs babe?” I asked.

“Wetin be my own? Do I know Chioma before? Na me born am? I sabi wetin she don do before she come Owerri? Look! I cannot vouch for any babe that is above fifteen years! Even my younger sister!” He said.

“Well, all I know is that Chioma is a good girl and I love her!”  I said

“No vex o! No vex!” He said and left me to attend to his musical set. We were talking outside the DJ cubicle.

I continued to have a secret relationship with Katty. She happened to be very close to Chioma and knew her itinerary. So, we were discreet, but I always looked forward to moments with her. They were explosive. I still respect her till date on how she comports herself whenever I was in their company. I found it difficult to meet her gaze so that Chioma would not be suspicious, but Katty acted so naturally that I sometimes wondered if she was not the girl I was cheating Chioma with. But in all of these, I never stopped reading at night. After closing the bar at 2:00AM I read until 5:00AM before sleeping, I wake up at 7:30AM and go to school, I return at 4:00PM and sleep until 9:00PM. It was a routine I tried to keep.

My first problem with Chioma started when she realised I had over a million naira in my bank account. She was cleaning up my room in the hotel when she stumbled upon my bank passbook. She reminded me of the car I wanted to buy, and I told her what Mr Adegoke told me about sending the wrong signals. She did not like the idea at all. She said I do not have to listen to Mr Adegoke because everyone knows I was a hustler and could afford the car. I declined and told her I had always followed Mr Adegoke’s advice and it had helped in all way.

She was angry, but as she ranted, she cautiously avoided insulting Mr Adegoke so as not to hurt my feelings. Eventually she threw the bomb!

“If you don’t want a car, me I need a car!” She said defiantly. It was as if I was slapped from behind my back.

“What? You said what?” I asked.

“I need a small car of my own!” She said. “I need a Gulf 3!”

“Is this a joke or something?” I asked.

“BJ! I am dead serious! Since you cannot spend your money on yourself, spend it on me! I am your girlfriend!”

“Listen, Chi!” I said. “Even if I am to buy you a car, it should not be like this nah!”

“Like how?” She snapped.

“I mean, like quarrel! Like you are forcing me to!” I said.

“I am not forcing you! I need it! I have wanted to tell you since! I was only waiting for you to buy yours first!”

“But you know that would drain my account nah! How would I just buy two cars at once?” I asked.

“BJ, you can afford it! I know you can!” She said.

“No my dear, I cannot afford it! The future is still bleak! I need to save up for the rainy days! Listen, my dear, I am a student! You are a student! I know I work here and there to make ends meet, but I am not that buoyant! Don’t I provide all your needs for you?

“What do you mean by you are not buoyant?” She threw my passbook at me. “You have over a million naira in your bank account! Three fifty to four hundred thousand naira will buy the car for me, and you will still have enough in your account! Bolaji! Do you love me?” She asked.

“Of course chi! You know I do!” I replied.

“Then buy me my car!” She grabbed her handbag and walked out of my room, crying.

I was confused! I needed to talk to Slam