Posted in Prose, Stories

The Abandoned Child new coverCHAPTER 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 SSCE 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 GCE. The private school where I taught during the holidays was an examination centre for the GCE. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Posted in Prose, Stories

PUPPY LOVE (Poem)

 

 

I made sure my uniform was ever sparkling
My green khaki shorts well ironed
My light green shirt starched to still
Brown Cortina shoes polished to glow
With sparkling white stockings

I sure answered all asked questions in class
At the front row where I could be by you
Though I had all writing materials
I would rather borrow from you
I did not go out for break unless you did

I felt all your pains silently, when you were ill
Prayed fervently for your recovery
I wished to be sick so I could be with you
In the School Clinic on admission beds

I hated Mr. Akpan our math teacher
For difficult questions he asked you always
Questions that earned you his strokes
I hated any, who got you humiliated

Always present at evening preps
Because you did not miss evening preps
I lost focus when you missed prep
I lost concentration when you were present
I was consumed with so much of you
I smiled when I saw you laughing
Even though I knew not why you laughed
I beheld your innocent beauty
In your purple checkered day wear
Twice I fought Kennedy for calling you names

I wanted so much to be by your side
To be the only boy you played with
To share my provisions and snacks with
I wanted to tell you how I felt towards you
I wished you had read my short messages
Written at the back pages of your books I borrowed

My heart tore to a thousand pieces
When I sought you during prep class
Thought you were sick so you missed prep
But you were with Jude in his class
Side by side you sat chatting and flirting

It killed me to see Jude walking with you
During sporting activities it was Jude by you
During manual labour he was helping you out
All I wanted from you, you gave to Jude
I failed my examinations because you
You were the answer to all my examinations’ questions

Finally, you nailed the coffin on me
When at close of the third term
All were packed and ready to go home
I waited for you to leave before I left
I would leave but I had with Jude, scores to settle
But when your Daddy came to take you home
Jude put his luggage in your Daddy’s car and off you all drove.

Posted in Prose, Stories

UNTITLED CONTD

CHAPTER 5

 

 

At the age of fourteen, most of my age mates were in secondary school while some where learning various trades and skills. I was still living with Pharaoh without a future ambition. I get up daily and go hunting, perhaps I was a hunter, I do sell some of my spoils some times: I was not allowed to use a Dane gun by the hunters association because of my age so I use my snares and my dog as weapons supported by my machete.

 

The money I saw in mama’s box was still there, I do not really know what to do with it and because we were not friends before she died, I felt her spirit could haunt me if I misuse the money.

 

Five months after the incident at the house on the hill top, the children of Baba Oloro came to my house and killed Pharaoh. Pharaoh was sleeping peacefully under the cashew tree beside my house when the eldest son of Baba Oloro beheaded him with one swift; he put Pharaoh’s head in a bag and said it will be used to appease “Ogun” the god of iron. They accused Pharaoh of biting their father on his way to his farm and infected him with rabbis and tetanus; they threatened to kill me if I make further trouble.

 

It was like a dream, why is everyone close to me leaving me alone in this world?, my mum, my grandma and now my dog!, I was just tired. I could not do anything. I was an Orphan and a desolate one at that. I mourned the death of my dog the way I never mourned the death of anyone I ever knew, I felt so lonely in the house without Pharaoh.

 

I began to wonder why Baba Oloro had lied about the venue of his encounter with Pharaoh. Baba Oloro died two days after Pharaoh was killed, it was Modupe’s mother that ran to my house and dragged me to her house so that I could escape the wrath of Baba Oloro’s children, and she said the children were on their way to my house.

 

They went to my house but did not meet me so they left after destroying some part of my house. I was with Modupe’s mother in her late father’s house for fourteen days before I came back to my house. Modupe’s mother happened to be a childhood friend of my mother, her husband was killed during an inter community wrestling competition, his opponent killed him with bare hands by dealing repeated punches to his stomach, he was left gasping for breath till he died  on the pitch at the village square. Modupe’s mother did not remarry; she focused on her business and on training her three children. She took me in as a son and advised me on the way to go about my life, she was shocked to realize that I had no future ambition and I was shocked at her attitude because no one ever showed such care towards me.

 

Modupe was already in form three in a secondary school at Ibadan, she comes home during the holidays, she told me a lot about school and encouraged me to endeavor to go to school, it was while she was encouraging me to go to school that her mother interjected and reminded her that there was no money for anyone to send me to school. I remembered grandma’s money and I told her that I have a lot of money left by my grandma.

 

After spending two weeks with Modupe, I went home with her to see the extent of damages done by Baba Oloro’s children, it was superficial, we went straight to mama’s cash box, it was intact, I upturned it’s content so as to count the money, beneath the money was my picture as a child and a note written by my grandma that the money in the box was for my education. In case she passes on before I entered secondary school. That was the day I mourned my grandma, I cried like a baby, how could I have known grandma had such love and plans for me? In the midst of her sufferings and sickness she still had plans for me, in the midst of the hunger and wretchedness she kept her window’s mite for a better future for me.

 

Modupe tried to console me, she cried with me too as we counted the money. We counted until we got confused at the total amount. I went to Mama’s grave and begged for her forgiveness for all the pains I had dealt her in her life time, I begged her for everyday she had hungered and thirsted for my sake, I beg her to forgive all my pranks and wickedness I had meted on her. If grandma had not died, I would be in my third year in the secondary school. The money in the box could see me through five years in a standard boarding school!

 

Together with Modupe, we took the money to her mother and explained the note and the picture found beneath the box. She contributed her own portion of tears as she blessed the old soul of grandma five years after her death!

 

We decided that I go to my former school and collect my first school leaving certificate and testimonial. I went there at the resumption of school and some teachers were laughing at me when I told them I needed my credentials to further my education. Mr. Makinde even joked about my wanting to sell the certificate to a more ambitious person. I simply told him that it was my property and I needed it for keeps.

 

In my quiet time, I ruminated over the house on the hill top and the mystery surrounding it, most especially why Baba Oloro was there that night, a place dreaded by all, and why anything didn’t happen to me and Pharaoh having been that close to the house.

Alabi and his gang had all vanished into thin air mysteriously after a heist that they carried out at national Bank in Akure. The operation had brought armed police men and soldiers to our small village looking for Alabi and the gang. For six months the gang was living in the farm house of Baba Oloro deep in the forest, it was known to the villagers but no one could tell the police.

After six months, we started noticing Alabi’s presence in his house only at nights. On a fateful night, there were sporadic gun shots and screams coming from the house on the hill top, we thought the police had finally caught up with the gang. People that went to the scene the next day said there were shallow graves freshly dug and the motor bikes coupled with blood stains littering the compound. That was the last we heard of Alabi and his gang followed by the strange attacks on anyone that ventured into the house. We also noticed that the Motor bikes disappeared over the years and grasses took over the compound.

 

What most of the villagers did not notice was that Baba Oloro suddenly came into wealth over the years; he withdrew his children from the village school and sent them to school in the city. Even his first two sons were rumoured to be schooling in the white man’s country.

I now understand that only a juju man like Baba Oloro could manipulate malevolent spirits to attack people as had been happening in the house on the hill top so as to scare people from getting access to whatever was hidden therein.

Pharaoh attacked Baba Oloro because dogs could identify evil spirits.

That morning I told Modupe and her mother about my thoughts and we took my story to the police station at Ado Ekiti. After listening to my story, the police accompanied us with an escort pick up van to the house of late Alabi. After the search, huge sum of money in crisp naira notes were discovered locked up in one of the rooms, it ran into millions of naira bearing the band of the national bank Akure.

 

The bank rewarded me with a scholarship throughout my education and an awaiting job upon graduation from the university. The Ondo state government gave me a reward of two hundred thousand naira and promised to rebuild grandma’s house using cement block. I was also given two plots of land out of the reserved portion of the community land.

Suddenly I became a celebrity, I was loved by young and old and I had many friends.

 

I was almost sixteen years old when I left the village for the first time. I left for Ibadan to start from form one in the same boarding school Modupe attends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 6

 

 

 

I handed the cheque given to me to Modupe’s mother as I have taken her to be my Guardian, she would put the money into her business and train me and her children with it.

 

It was in 1985 that I was admitted into Apata Grammar School in Ibadan as a boarding student. I was sixteen years old and in form one, Modupe was fifteen years and in form four, she would graduate the next year. It was not easy trying to cope at school, my age mates were in form three and above, I had already sprouted a moustache, and my legs were hairy, this made me become a subject of discussion in the school, I clearly stood out amongst my classmates, and sometimes they mischievously refer to me as uncle Bolaji.

 

I was made the class prefect on the first day at school, it was on the assembly ground that the school principal spotted me lined up with form one students, he shouted on top of his voice at me, he said I should leave the line and go to join my mates, he was pointing at the senior students line. The whole assembly rocked with laughter until a teacher went and whispered something to the principal, he then waved the students to a silence and apologized to me publicly, he then asked me the alphabet of my class. Class one B sir I replied. Good! From today, you are the class monitor! He announced and there were shouts of uncle ‘B’ everywhere.

 

Life in boarding school was totally different for me. I had being a free bird all my life, I had lived without bounds or rules and regulations, it was a different ball game here as I was made to wake up at 5.30pm every morning. I was forced to observe afternoon rest daily at 3pm; I was to go to Sunday church service at the school chapel. I had never attended a church or mosque in my sixteen years of existence. We were given portions of food without caring if the ration will satisfy you or not and you cannot ask for more food if you are not satisfied else they tag you ‘Oliver twist’

 

Another challenge I had was that I was too crude and uncivilized, my ways were strange to my fellow students, I was a raw village boy who not speak good English and when I try to speak English my accent made it sound as if I was speaking Jamaican ‘patua’, people laugh whenever I open my mouth to speak and I always had reasons to speak because I was the class monitor.

 

Mr. Adegoke was my English teacher and he took special interest in my reformation, he does not laugh when I commit blunders while speaking, he was quick to correct my errors and made me to correct my self by repeating the words correctly, he personally gave me a book titled”Common errors in English” and gave me home work on it daily. Once he called me into his office and encouraged me to be focused and positive, he said I was catching up fast and I should not take any of the aspersions being cast on me seriously. He said he believed in me. He was the first human being to challenge me and dared me to succeed if I can, he told me that age was just a number and that once I am out of secondary school I will realized that age means nothing at the university or the larger world, he asked after my parent and I told him my story. He then told me that I could rewrite my story if I try, he said he was an orphan too. His words of encouragement moved me and I secretly vowed to succeed in life by becoming more serious and determined

 

Kareem was nine years old and in the same class with me, he calls me ‘egbon’ meaning ‘elder one’. I told him severally to stop calling egbon but he refused. He said he could not bring himself to calling me by my first name because I happen to be the same age with his eldest brother, his father’s first born who was a first year student at the University of Ife, his brother is older than three other persons before him and he reveres his eldest brother. He finally agreed to be calling me ‘Uncle B’ since that has been like a nick name.

 

He was the smallest and smartest in the class and he helped me a lot and in return I protected him from bullies. Every potential bully in the school left him alone the day I slapped Joseph for beating up Kareem at the school farm during Agric practical.

Joseph returned to school the next day with a swollen face and people thought it was because of the slap I had used to send him out of the school farm the previous day. The students had formed a circle with Joseph and Kareem at the centre while they cheered the duo to fight. Kareem was never a match for Joseph or anyone in the class. Kareem was lanky and feeble by stature while Joseph was an Igbo boy that eats fufu three times daily without drinking much water! He was very stout with a barrel like chest. He was sitting on Kareem’s stomach and stuffing dried grass into the poor boys mouth when I came into the farm. I broke the chain formed by the students, lifted Joseph off Kareem and dealt him a blinding slap over his eyes, it was someone else that shouted in pain instead of Joseph himself for he ran blindly out of the farm stumbling and shouting ‘anya m o! (My eyes)

The Joseph incident increased my fame in the school and another ‘alias’ was added to my name ‘Ifoti to gbona’ (hot slap) so the senior students called me ‘ifoti’ while my mates called me ‘Uncle B’ and all these happened in the first term of my first year in school.

At the end of the second term in form one my grade was better than the first term. My total average score went up from 53 to 76 percent. I got a ‘C’ in English language and an ‘A’ in mathematics.

 

Kareem was a wiz kid! His average was 98 percent; he got an A in all subjects but Yoruba language where he got a ‘B’. I got a ‘C’; in Yoruba language even though I spoke the thickest Yoruba in class and knew every adage in the language even more than my teacher.

 

We went for the long vacation of 1986. Modupe and I rarely saw at school because I did not like to be in her company due to inferiority complex. I could not bring myself to call Modupe ‘senior Dupe’ as every junior does. We were from the same Village and I was older than her.

The few times we encountered at the school sports arena, she had tormented me by speaking to me in good English instead of using the ekiti dialect that we were both brought up with, of course she got the good laugh she wanted when I attempted to speak with her in good English also. She even had the audacity to refer to me as her school son once. I warned her in a language only the two of us understood and walked out on her.

 

Our relationship at school affected our closeness when we went home on holiday. I did not return to her house. I went to my grandma’s house and cleaned it up. I went and met Modupe’s mother to give me some of my money for my upkeep, she refused, and she said I should e coming to her house to eat daily. I was about seventeen years old and a boy of my age needs some change in his pocket. She said she had put all of my money in a fixed deposit account at the bank and was not due for withdrawal. I was happy.

 

Modupe has a boy friend. The boy was already in the university, he is from our village and my age mate. He is the son of the ‘Balogun’ a high chief of our village.

Akindele drives his father’s Peugeot 504 Salon Car whenever he is at home and he comes to take Modupe out daily.

I used the holiday period to develop the two plots of land given to me by the community. I planted maize. I was on my way home from the farm one evening when Akindele drove by and stopped to give me a lift home as the farm was about one hour trekking distance from the Village. Modupe was in the car with him and she prevented me from entering the car, she said I was sweating and smelling. She said I was half way home already and would be better I continued trekking. She told Akindele to drive on. I saw the look of confusion on the face of Akindele but I thanked him for his gesture and I continue to walk home with my hoe on the shoulder and my Cutlass swinging in my hands. She was right! I was sweating and smelling, and I was actually half way home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Prose, Stories

UNTITLED

CHAPTER 4

 

After the death of grandma, I was left alone in the world. No one really cared if I existed and my elusive mother was yet to come home. Uncle Ladi a bus driver that shuttles between Ekiti and Lagos told me when he saw me scavenging at the motor park that he saw my mother at ‘eko Idumota’ and told her that her mother was dead and buried, he said my mother had screamed and feigned to be touched and she vowed to be in the village the next day. That was four years ago, she is yet to come home. Uncle Ladi says he still sees her in different parts of Lagos city but she avoids him as much as she could so he now pretends not to see her whenever their paths crossed. No one knows what she does in Lagos, but we know she is alive.

 

I continued schooling, I continued hunting and I continued to scavenge to survive until I finished my primary education. There was no plan for furthering my education, I was contented with the fact that I could read and write at least.

 

My only friend was Pharaoh the dog! We became friends the day we were both involved in a brawl at the butchers end in the market. Our prayer was answered when a butcher carelessly threw away a chunk of red meat instead of the bone in his hands, I had beaten Pharaoh to pick up the meat and tucked inside my pouch but the dog would not accept defeat as he grabbed my khaki pouch with his teeth and we began to struggle for possession. The dog was snarling revealing dirty brown incisors dripping with sticky saliva. I held unto the pouch with both hands as I used my legs to kick at the dog, I was shouting at him to let go and accept defeat because I beat him to it. As if the dog understood, he let go and I took to my heels homeward.

 

I had run for about four minutes and I stopped to trek when I heard the sound of panting Pharaoh by me side wagging his tail and jumping to reach my pouch, I took to my heels again and Pharaoh followed me home. We ate together that evening after I had cooked egusi soup with eba. I dished his portion into an old plastic plate I found in the kitchen. He ate up, lapped up some water from the bucket full of rain water outside the house then he lay down and slept at my door.

That was how Pharaoh became my friend and companion and together we went hunting and scavenging. We were a formidable team when we got the butchers stand, whatever Pharaoh picks, he brings to me and we put our spoils together and go home to enjoy a sumptuous meal. We also went hunting at nights and early mornings as well as check on my snares and traps, we sold our catch to the Villagers operating local restaurants called ‘Buka’. We buy food stuff with the proceeds. I had no future ambition so I took each day as it came.

 

On a Sunday, I decided to turn the house inside out and upside down, it was my house and I needed to know all the contents. The rubbish in the house was more than the valuables therein; I was gradually turning into a mad man without realizing it. It was a three room apartment without a toilet or bathroom. I grew up taking my bath at the back yard and I do my toilet straight in the bush where the villagers dump their refuse. That is where the pigs of the village get their break fast and maintained their robust stature. As early as 6.AM it was common to see many youths and adults positioned at different angles of the bush doing their thing, the pigs are grunting and patiently waiting for us to stand up so they could lick up the pebbled we have dropped. Some impatient pigs would actually eat up the pebbles from the butt of a little boy before it dropped to the ground. It is from these pigs that we all contact Chiggers that eat up the skin beneath our toes or between the toes. When ever one is scratching between toes furiously, it was common knowledge that that one has contacted chigger. The parasite burrow deep into the skin and live on our blood, growing bigger by the day.

 

I enjoyed and actually looked forward to being pressed in the mornings so I could go to the bush and hope some girls my age could come to the bush at same hour so I could catch a glimpse of their round bum. I used to marvel at the roundness and smoothness of their bum and wondered why that of the boys seems so hard and battered with craw-craw and scabies. Woe betides any girl that her bum was discovered to be like that of the boys, her reputation in the village would be ruined.

 

At a stage in our lives, the girls stopped coming to the bush. They resorted to using the ‘short put’ method. They defecate into nylon bags or newspaper and throw into the bush in the morning or at night. So it was common to wake up in the morning and see nylon bag at your back yard or news paper that has been scattered by pigs while eating up its content leaving the green fleas to mop up the rest and deposit maggots on the paper. Such discovery is followed by loud raining of curses on the perpetrator and his lineage born and unborn. It was mostly girls that dropped these parcels in front of peoples house’s probably because they cannot go close to the bush at such unholy hour or because they saw a male who has been wooing them, they quickly dropped the parcel wherever to avoid embarrassment.

 

You could also be unfortunate in the early hours of the day while doing your thing in the bush; a flying wrapped newspaper of nylon bag could land on your head spilling its content all over you! Your day is ruined as there was no way you could leave the bush without meeting one or two persons.

 

I remember the night I heard an unusual sound in front of my house. A twelve year old girl Modupe had squatted in front of my house to do her thing, unfortunately she did not expect to meet Pharaoh. Pharaoh had sneaked up to her and yawned, waiting for her to finish so he could clean up the mess. She was frightened and she screamed and stood up holding up her gown with her pants still down and the pebbles on the ground. She stood rooted at the spot for fear of being attacked by Pharaoh.

 

I came out with my palm oil lamp and beheld a half unclad girl shitting in front of my house; I looked her over with the lamp: Modupe! What are you doing? I asked.

I am sorry! She said shaking amidst tears and staring at Pharaoh who was agitated with anxiety to mop up the ground before another dog or a pig comes around.

 

I took the lamp downwards and beheld her nakedness, I went further to see the shit she had already dropped on the floor and I laughed. I laughed out loud enjoying my catch. This is a girl that acts as if she is from the city simply because she sometimes follows her mother to Ibadan to buy wares for her shop. Some evil thoughts crossed my mind that night because she was at my mercy, but I was like an orphan in the village, I knew my limits. I let her go. I told her to clean up her self and leave and never repeat such again. She did not clean up even though she had paper in her hand for that purpose. She hastily pulled up her pants, stepped over her shit and as Pharaoh took charge of the pebbles, she fled crying more out of shame of indignity.

 

 

 

Grandma had a lot of junk in her room, I did not know what she really owned because we were not best of friends, I always saw myself as a burden to her. Another strange fact was that grandma never cursed me; she would rather curse my mother.

I brought out five heavy metal boxes from her room. The room had been closed for four years and had become very stuffy with dust and cob webs. I opened the boxes and beheld beautiful clothes I never saw her wear, one box contained twenty bundles of unsown fabrics. These would definitely worth some good money so I kept them back.

The fifth and smallest of the boxes was locked with a key so I had to use my cutlass to hack it open. I held my breath when I opened the box. It was full to the brim with crispy naira notes, in a trinket box embedded between the notes is assortment of gold jewelries. I closed the box and ran out to bolt the front door from within, even though I hardly entertained visitors or friends, my instinct just made me to close the door.

I went back into grandma’s room again and opened the box, the money and jewelries were still there. At that instance, I lost every desire to proceed with the clean up exercise I had embarked on. I simply pushed back every box into place and went out for a stroll with my dog

 

 

We strolled aimlessly for about forty minutes before we came to the track road opposite the house of Alabi, the house on the hill top, the sacred house. I stood there staring at the hunted house and the desire to wander into the house overwhelmed me. I was with Pharaoh my only friend in the world. The feeling to reach to the lone building was so palpable that I imagined I was in there already so I started to advance towards the house a step at a time like a Zombie. Under the cover of the night I bent down and crawled towards the house. Pharaoh did like wise and together we approached the house a step at a time.

 

My Heart beat was pounding furiously that I felt sharp pains in my chest, I was breathing with difficulty while Pharaoh seemed excited panting and wagging his tail as we crawl stealthily forward.

 

After about fifteen minutes of crawling in the bush, I got to ten yards from the front door. The door seemed close. The door had always seemed opened and inviting from afar. It was rumoured that the door was always open and inviting to preys. I waited. The wind blew and rustled dried leaves all around me, I was scared, I was sweating in the cold night. Something moved fast in front of the house, it was an animal and before I could stop him, Pharaoh was in pursuit. He ran out of my sight as he chased the animal into the night barking.

 

I buried my face into the ground as the stupidity of the mission dawned on me. I have just discovered some money and jewelries in my house and here I am on a suicide mission! What if I die this night? Well no one would really miss me, I thought. And Pharaoh can always get another master.

 

Pharaoh dashed past the front of the house again barking at snarling at the Animal just within his grasp, they ran out of sight then something happened.

The door to the house opened it opened slowly that I almost did not notice it until I saw a ray of light from a burning lamp inside the house. The door closed before I could decipher if what I saw was a figment of my imagination or reality. It was time for me to bolt, but I stood rooted at the spot where I laid. I closed my eyes tight and opened it again squinting so I could focus properly at the door. Someone was there! He or she stood silhouetted against the wall but I could figure out the human form from the clothes he or she wore.

 

I could hear the sound of myself breathing, I wanted to stand up and run but my legs became vegetables, it was like without bones, I could not move a muscle. I simply laid there and waited of death.

 

Pharaoh was coming back to me with his kill in his jaws, he was half way between me and the house when he dropped the animal in his mouth and started moving towards the house snarling, his mane raised and tail tucked between his hind legs. Pharaoh charged and leapt into the air upon the person in the shadows, there were movements and screams. Pharaoh was biting and tearing, his victim was screaming in pains, swearing and chanting incantations. The man in the shadow got up and ran in two circles pulling Pharaoh along with him before he ran back into the open door of the house closing the door and Pharaoh behind him.

 

I saw him, it was Baba Oloro! The famous native Doctor and friend of Alabi.

I picked up the warm Antelope Pharaoh had killed and together we ran madly out of the bush that night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Prose, Stories

ABA MY ABA

My beloved home land and abode
The ancient City of my Fore Fathers

The City of the great Ngwa Race

The land of the great Elephants
The Land of merchants and Business moguls
The Land of agile  sports men and Women
The land rich in food and waters
Ariaria, Foulks road, Ogbor hill, Azikiwe road, Umungasi, ikot ekpene road.
The Streets and roads that make Aba what it is

The land of great women
History will never forget your exploit of 1929
but what happened to you?
Your beauty, your pride where are they?
Where are the gallant Elephants?
Where are those Industries that made you thick?
Where are your youths?
All like Sheep’s have gone astray
Every one to his Tent like the Israelis
Your youths are scattered about

Like scoundrels they fight for survival
All man for himself, survival of the fittest
Your Streets are littered with dirt’s
Your Air is filled with Stench of pollution
Your Streets and Roads are now dumping ground for refuse and sewage

Mosquitoes sing lullaby in our ears all night
We sleep with one eye open and Ears drawn
Your Youths have become Lazy
They all seek the easiest way out
They resort to crime and vices as means of survival

They lost confidence in their selves, and then the state
The number of Youth Lunacy increase by the day.
Your Maidens pervade the streets at Night
I fear my Shadow at Nights…No one is safe
Fear of Hoodlums, the Police, Army, Bakassi boys

You used to be known for your versatility
now you are tagged king of fake products
you used to be a delight to Investors and Tourist
Now you are desolate, left to die in the pool of your blood
The great Elephant!! Now you trod with head bowed in shame

How are the mighty fallen? Your eyes are beclouded in tears
your skin patched with bruises and scars from your struggles
Aba my Aba, who will bring back your Glory??
You have been lied to for too long

Those you so trusted have always betrayed you
They are Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
Vampires! They have sucked your Children dry
Like the breast of an old, the water has run dry
They tax your Children with numerous levies
They do not care for your Children

They eat alone, they and their Children yet unborn
They use the Sweat of your Children and build castles in foreign lands
They loot you to enrich other lands
Unrepentant fools they are! They do not hear the wailing of the people.

But I have a dream!
That one day, the Elephant will bounce back
That posterity will catch up with the evil doers
That we shall be free from “our own” that has held us captive
That the length of Port Harcourt road and Aba Owerri road
Shall be liken to the streets of Paris

That investors, Tourist, foreigners shall be struggling to come to our land
That our youths shall make sports and entertainment lucrative
That our children shall become professionals of various endeavors
I foresee a wind of Change
A hurricane, a cyclone that will sweep the land of all ills

And usher in a haven of peace and tranquility
I see the rebirth of my home land for good
Then shall we all gather at the Great Eyimba Stadium
And sing with one voice “Nzogbu! Nzogbu!! Enyii mba Enyii!!!
The dawn of a new era.
By Awoleye Ayokunle.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Prose, Stories

NOTHING TO LOOSE

The next week, I was withdrawn from the private school to a public school with very poor infrastructure. Most of the students are house helps in different homes or from very poor back grounds. The teachers could barely construct good sentences so the lingua franca in the school was Pidgin English. The school is very close to the Woji creek, thus the name Creek view community secondary school. Most of the students come to school very late daily and we have assemblies on Mondays alone.

At ten years plus, I was very smart and tall for my age, I was almost as tall as mummy who is actually a tall woman, she is actually taller than daddy.  At this age I was knowledgeable of happenings around me and I knew that all was not well. The problem was “what was wrong”?

Daddy had not left his job; he still drives to work daily and returned as usual. Everything was normal except for the way I was being treated. But I was doing very well at school all the same. In fact I had no competition in the new school as I came top of the class after the first term examination in JSS 2. My average score was 82 percent while Julius came second with 65 percent. Julius used to be the best in the class before my arrival

Julius Odeh is a year older than me, his father works at Genesis fast food as security opening and closing the door for customers as well as directing them on where and how to park their vehicles. He thrives on tips. He said his father used to be a police officer but was dismissed with some of his colleagues for collecting bribe at an illegal check point from the wife of the state commissioner of police. But Julius is a very quiet and ambitious young man. We became friends and solved mathematics equations together. He used to be in a better school too but after the dismissal of his father without benefits, his mother ran away from the house with a strange man and things fell apart for the family. The mother used to be a business woman that goes to Aba to buy textile materials and other accessories and sells directly to office customers with her car boot as her ware house. She was doing well. But she could not cope when the dad lost his job. The father became temperamental and edgy so she fled.

His father focused all energy towards fulfilling his dream of educating all his children especially Julius being the only male child. His resources are very lean but he became unnecessary friendly with every customer that visited the fast food and took in all insults just to get his tips. The amount he realized from daily tip kept him going and meeting daily family needs.

Julius talked a lot about his father and how he advises them and challenged them to be the best they can and make a success out of life, he advised them to shine their eyes and never let an opportunity to slip by them. Julius has an elder sister and two younger sisters.

The treatment I received from my home did not improve rather it grew from bad to worse, I no longer ate on the dining table, my food was being dished in a plastic plate, the same type we used for the dogs but a different colour. The plates were actually purchased together.

The first day mummy served my food in the plastic plate and handed over to me, I took it to the dog’s pen and came back to her for my food. I used to eat with a ceramic breakable plate just like daddy and mummy. I had to rush back and retrieve the remnants from the dog before they licked the plate. That was after mummy had slapped me hitter thither for giving my food to the dogs. I ate the dog’s left over under her supervision

At thirteen years old in JSS 3 my world had always revolved around my small nuclear family. Extended family seldom visited and as such the way my life metamorphosed from grace to grass seemed normal to me. I gradually adapted to the life of servitude in the house. The kind of stories I heard from my classmates who were mainly house helps in their various homes did not make me feel out of place. The quality of teachers in the school did not help matters either: they did not care, all they do in the teachers office was chew bubble gum, gossip and sell. Our female teachers bring clothes, shoes, perfumes and different kind of commodities to buy and sell among them. No one cared if a student failed or passed an examination, as long as the student paid his or her school fees and other levies.

Julius my new found friend is an exceptional guy, he has this knack for success in life and I dare say he took life too seriously. He had his life planned out; he knew what he wanted to be in future and how to go about achieving it. He always knew he could not rely on his struggling father to see him through to the university so he had planned that immediately after his secondary education, he would be apprenticed in the skill of underwater welding and subsequently seek an employment with which he would see himself through the university to study chemical or petro chemical engineering. He probably would be working off shore which would be taking him in and out of town at intervals. He planned to be buying portions of Land whenever he returned from the rig instead of lavishing his money on frivolities. After buying sufficient plots of lands, he will start to develop them into houses and before he is forty, he would have become a real estate mogul. I liked it whenever I hear him talk like this, like an adult with so much confidence. He knows where he is going and how to get there.

For me, my future was just in front of my nose. I took every day as it came. I had no worries because I had been spoon fed until lately when the page turned. Julius had asked me severally about my future ambition and I could not give a definite answer. I had no future ambition. Every time he asked I gave him a different answer.

“Make up your mind Ceece” he would say. “Stop being a pendulum!”

One day after my daily chores at home, I got to school after ten o’clock: no one questioned lateness in our school. Daily roll calls were not taken. The proprietress would always say” If you like you come to school!” if you like do not come!” it’s not my business” Just pay me my money! That’s all!

We normally chorus the last statement with her “That’s all!”

During the break session thirty minutes after I got to school, Julius approached me.

“Ceece I need to talk to you” he said and “it is very important” he added

Really? Okay nah! I am listening” I said

“I have an eerie feeling towards you” he said

“Me?” what is it about?” I asked

Are you really sure this people you live with are your real parent?  He asked and continued as I stare at him.

I asked because no reasonable parent would intentionally delay their child or ward from coming perpetually late to school every day! No parent would change their child from a prestigious private school to a lousy public school like our without having lost their job or source of income. They stopped driving you to school! They chased their house helps away and replaced them with you, they even relocated you to the BQ! These are things you told me nah abi?”

I nodded my head.

Good! He continued, Ceece shine your eyes o! Something is not right here! Have you seen your birth certificate before? He asked

No! And why? I asked

Look out for it! Get it and go to the hospital to confirm if your birth is actually in their records and who your real parents are!

I am told I was born in Europe! I replied.

Europe? He teased, okay nah! No wahala, but just get the birth certificate all the same, you will know if it made in Europe or made in Nigeria!” he said.

Hmm, Julius you are getting me scared o! Why all these assertions nah? Because you have to know who you are Ceece! You need to where you stand early now, if you are a house maid, then so be it! If you are a bonafide daughter of the Harts, then so be it! But being in between is not good at all, are you a Bat?

Bat! How? I asked

The butterfly and the bird both fly but they are different. Any butterfly that dares to fly as high as a bird will lose its wings. Its better it maintained its own altitude. Ceece, I am from a poor background but I know I will not be a poor man! He said with emphasis eating his chest. “I will work hard and cut my coat according to my size. My father made some mistakes which I have learnt from. I will not follow his footsteps even though he  has learnt his mistakes and is paying hard for it now by bearing the family burden alone, my mother that was assisting him before has run away with another man. My father is still a police man even though he was dismissed some years ago! That police mentality still dey him blood, so I have vowed to be a better version of him. We live in an abandoned building free of charge. We don’t even know the owner of the building but all the families occupying the building know that one day, the owner or his relatives will come and chase us all out of the building! They may even sell it off and the new owner would chase us out! When this happens, where do we go to? He asked

“Ha! Me I don’t know nah!’ “Maybe you people will rent another house”. I said

“No way! I can’t see my father paying for a decent house! I ask my father this question every day and he does not have an answer instead he says when one road closes, another opens!” “Imagine! Such a lazy mans philosophy!” “About twelve different families live in the building illegally without paying house rent. There is no water there! There is no electricity, no toilet or bathroom but we all survive”.

“Ceece, my point is that we know we are poor and we do not deceive ourselves. Ceece you need to know who you are!” with much said, he walked away. I began to think.

 

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At fifteen in SS2 my position in the family was unquestionably that of a maid. No show of affection from my mother at all, she sometimes referred to me as “This girl” or she asks:”What’s that your stupid name again”.

I had withdrawn into my shell. I used to be a bubbling happy girl. I now wear under sized tight clothes or over sized clothes given to me by mummy, there are clothes that were given to me to use as rags for cleaning the floor that I converted to personal wears. No under wear was ever bought for me and I dare not ask mother for clothes because I was afraid of the consequence. I degenerated. All I do is wake up and work, there is always enough clothes to wash from Daddy’s to the Kids who are now in nursery and primary school. Expensive private schools with a car and driver attached to them.

Upon return from school, I change into my domestic clothes and continue to work. Mummy always bags of melon to ensure I am kept occupied until mid night and upon all these I was still tops in my class to the bewilderment of my friends. My parents never uttered a word whenever I give them my school result. So I stopped giving it to them.

I do not have a tooth brush in the house, no bathing soap. I was restricted to the boy’s quarter and nothing is bought and sent there. I only come to the main building to work then I go back to the BQ to sleep. I bath with the bar soap I used in washing clothes, I used my finger to brush my teeth which has lost its sheen. I don’t use cream let alone pomade. It was Julius that gave me the first shaving stick to go and shave my arm pit when he was bold enough to tell me that I smelled.

At fifteen I was I was fully developed in puberty. My first menstrual flow came in the third term examination hall. I was experiencing some sort of stomach disorder and releasing some farts into the air to relieve myself. I did not know that I was stained until I stood up and proceeded to submit my answer sheet when the hall was full of laughter and jests from the boys. Some girl pulled her cardigan and gave me to tie around my waist and I went home in shame. I told my mother about my flow and she gave me some old news paper to use as Pad. I told her I had no pants and she gave me two of her old tights to wearing. The tights have faded and have holes beneath.

When I got to school the next day, the new had gone round that I was stained the previous day. I returned the cardigan to my class mate and went in search of my friend Julius. He laughed and teased me then he observed the way I was walking because of the paper pad I was putting on.

“Why are you walking like a crab? He asked laughing. Is it paining you or what?”

I told him about the news paper I was wearing.

News paper? He exclaimed. Who does that in this time and gage? Not even toilet tissue? He asked

“That is what my mummy gave me I told him. Please keep your voice down “I begged.

Okay o! I have never heard of such in my entire life. At worse you could have used an old worn out clothe or rag instead of news paper. My sisters use old clothes or tissue paper. He said

So did she advise you to stay off men or you will be pregnant now?

“No o! Stay off men like how?” I asked him.

“Didn’t she tell you anything?” He asked feeling genuinely concerned

No! I snapped. What is she supposed to tell me? I asked

Na wa o! Listen let me tell you what my father tells my sisters. Now that you have started menstruating, it means you have started releasing eggs in readiness for pregnancy.

Pregnancy! I exclaimed.

Yes nah! Didn’t you read in biology? They taught us in reproduction nah!

Okay! But I do not really understand it then.

What don’t you understand? He asked. You don’t know that if you are indulged in a sexual intercourse with a man now you could become pregnant? That is if you have eggs waiting in your ovary or is it uterus sef! He said

That is biology nah! I said

“That is reality! My sister!” He added

“Ceece! At this stage of your life you need a mother figure to guide and advise you”. “There is a lot you need to know now about life!” About men!” He said.

“But you are a man nah!” I said.

“Yes! Men like me!” He said

“Please tell me nah! What is it about men?” I asked

“Ceece, I can’t teach you about men! I am still a boy. Get your dad or mom to tell you about men please”

The bell rang for the beginning of the day’s examination paper.

 

 

 

Nothing to lose