The story bolaji was telling me about his babe was passing one ear and flying out from the other. My problem was the fire in my stomach. Even though i wanted to concentrate on the story i just couldnt because of the hunger i was feeling. It was as if they lit a huge fire in my stomach. The fire was like the type shedrach, mesach and abednigo in the bible where thrown into. Since last night i havent had anything. Dad didnt come home last night and this morning he still hasnt showed up before i left buy jamb form.
“Okay na tobi, dont foget to call me tomorrow when you are going back to check for the form” bolaji said when we got to his junction. I hadnt even realise we have gotten to his junction. My mind was at home.
“alright. See you tomorrow” i shouted to him without breaking my stride. I was imagining the wrap of fufu and egusi that will be waiting for me in the kitchen. Usually when dad stayed out this long without making preparations for my feeding there is always a reward when he comes back and i know he must have prepared something sumptious and kept for me. On getting close to the house i spotted strange cars parked in the compound. When i drew closer i saw people gathered at the house. People i didnt know before and i began to wonder what was happening. Our busy body neighbour, lola’s mother, saw me and ran towards me to give me the most heart-breaking news of my tender age. “Tobi, your papa don get accident ooooo”
After the burial i discovered that on his way home papa’s beetle was hit by a company truck right in front of area 2 police station, the company was responsible for the burial expenses and they gave me a compensation of 5million naira. My uncle said i was too young to handle such money and so collected it on behalf of me. He told the court that he was going to take responsibility for me and so i moved to live with him in the city. The very day i agreed to go live with him in the city was the genesis of my problem. My uncle immediately put the house i and my dad where staying for sale, telling me that it will be of no use keeping the house since no one will be living in it. Poor me, i believed him because afterall, he is my dad’s brother as well as an adult so he knows whats best for me.
After putting things in order back home, my uncle and i set out for the city two weeks after papa’s burial. We rode silently in his passat with him concentrating on the road and i dwelling on the past few weeks. I still cannot believe that things could change in so short a time. Its been 4 weeks now since i lost papa. Every day i still wake up at night hoping to hear the familiar sound of him ruffling books in his study. i wake up in the morning straining my ears to hear the familiar early morning wistling and splashing of water as papa bath in the bathroom before facing the new day. I still attempt to percieve the smell of sweet aroma coming from one of his numerous breakfast. But all these were a memory now. Ever since mama left us while i was just 4 years old, papa has been the one taking care of me. He cooks and clean for me and does everything a mother would do for a child. He plays the role of both father and mother so much that i never missed not having a mother. Infact, i was glad i had none after living next door to the troublesome lola’s mother.
“Whats hapening, i have told you to stop thinking about your father. I’m sure where ever he is, he would want you to be a man and move on”
“I wasnt thinking about him uncle” i lied wondering how i am suppose to stop thinking about someone i have spent all my life with.
“dont lie to me son, your eyes are teary” he glanced at my teary eye which i immediately began to wipe. My uncle sighed deeply and then said “i know its difficult to forget him so soon but you have to concentrate on what’s ahead of you. You are about to write your jamb exam, you know you need your full concentration to pass and get into school. You have to give it your all so that by the time you are in school you can focus on your studies by so doing think less of your father.”
“Well said uncle”
“Your father would have love for you to enter into the university and you should make him proud whereever he is by entering into the university and getting that degree. I will personally do everything within me to see that you get that degree. Whatever it is you want, dont hesitate to come and meet me. See me as a father just as i see you as a son” uncle looked at me with love in his eyes that i couldnt hold back the tear drop.
“Thank you very much uncle” i manage with croaky voice.
It was almost dusk by the time we got to my uncle’s house in apapa lagos. My uncle drove into his rented apartment, opened the car trunk and started hefting the bags out. I went to help him but he told me not to bother. When he was done we went together to his apartment upstairs with him carrying the bags and i tagging along empty handed. I was inwardly glad that he decided to carry the bags all by himself because the way i am feeling now carrying even the smallest bag would have draged me back down the stairs. All my bones where screaming from the hours of jerking and twisting they undergone in my uncle’s car. I see why people spend millions of naira on cars. Atleast when they journey it looks as though they are flying. With my uncles car you cant tell the difference between driving and dancing.
Atleast after unparking and freshening up a bowl of garri and ogbono soup with grab grab beef greeted us. After leveling down the eba i confessed that my uncle’s wife was the best cook in the world and not only was she the best cook in the world, she was also very attractive. I looked around the house took and discovered that it was comfortable for a middle class citizen. The flat consisted of a living room amd three bedroom, one for my uncle and his wife, one for guest and one for his study. The sitting room was tastefully furnished with a sofa and three chairs arranged around the wall mounted plasma t.v set. The sitting room was painted yellow and brown which were the colours of the curtains too. I settled down to knock myself out with movies on the plasma concluding that city life wasnt bad after all.
The next day being sunday, i awoke to the smell of akara and quickly brush my teeth to settle for a breakfast of pap and akara. After the sumptious meal, i took the dishes to the kitchen to clean. I met my uncle’s wife frying chicken for the afternoon’s stew and she offered me a drumstick. Men, i was begining to like this new life. My uncle and his wife were nice to me, they allowed me sleep and eat to my feel unlike the most stories i have heard of people living with their relations. After dressing up, my uncle drove us to his church. As i saw the name of the church fear catch me first. “Thunder and fire assembly”. When we entered inside, the usher lead me to a seperate session of the church seeing that i was a new member. After a while, the pastor announced that new members should move to the back of the church for anointing to speak in tongues. Mogbe, the usher came to me and i denied being a new member. I told him i had been in the church before unknown to me that my uncle has spoilt show for me, he has already told the usher that i was a newcomer and so there was no way i could diny it. I jejely carry myself follow the usher go the backyard where i met like 10 other new comers, 4 brothers and 6 sisters and all the sisters fine die. This particular sister was the one that caught my attention the most with her figure 8 body and open teeth. The bad thing besay she come get k-leg but wasnt that pronounced. As i looked at her she now smiled at me, omo, i started thanking the usher silently for bringing me along. I moved towards the sister and smiled at her once more. She returned my smile and i begin happy say my beans don don. As i was about engaging her in a conversation na im the pastor show. He started telling us that right now we need to learn how to speak in tongues before we become bonafide member of the church. For my mind i come begin wonder since when speaking i tongues become criteria for church membership. I no talk, i just bone. Then the pastor come begin explain give us how to speak in tongues after which he said we should practice. Omo, one mumu boy among us that was wearing a legging trouser and those see-through shirt was the first to start. As i see the boy with him gay appearance dey speak in tongues i just weak. the next thing i know, another boy started amd the girls too began. as i was trying to fathom what was going on the usher who lead us there started interpreting what they were saying. When everyone discovered that i wasnt saying anything they started to look at me like a demon. I look towards my new crush and notice that she was using style to shift away from me, hey. So as not to loose guard i enter the small french wey them teach me for school begin mix vanacular with french and yoruba. Omo, the girl came towards me and held my hands o. The preacher was saying ‘good, good’ while the usher started interpreting or should i say ‘misinterpreting’ what i was saying.
As the babe hold my hand i didnt wanted to rest o, but the preacher na tapped me that we have learnt alot so its time to go. We left and went inside the church. I didnt have enough time to discuss with my new crush, i was only able to obtain her name and phone number on our way back inside the church. On the ride back home i was feeling way better than i was days ago . We got home and my uncle’s, aunty emem, treated us to a plate of fried rice and chicken.
The following day my uncle took me out for clothes and book shopping while his wife bought me a beautiful forward bag and a new infinix hot note 2. I was so excited and thanked both of them. The next day my i and my aunty emem in the company of my uncle went to show our appreciation to relatives in the city who had attended papa’s burial. We kept going from one relatives house to another and another for 4 straight days. It was so tiring that after returning i am too tired to do anything but fall on the bed and sleep. I was feeling bad for not doing much bookwork but at thesame time looking forward to the next visit because my relatives always wet my hands even though after leaving there aunty emem collects the money saying she will keep it safe for me. Well, i didnt mind her keeping the money safe, atleast it will prevent me from spending everything.
After the fifth day we had finished visiting relatives so i had time to read my books and play with my phone. I phoned bisi, the girl i met in church and we got to know more about each other. I found out that she was a jambite just like me and that we actually put in for thesame school. I also discovered that she was living a couple of streets from me. She promised to take me to a library around the neighbourhood were we can both be going to study together.
So, Bisi and i started studying together at the library from 8am to 5pm everyday. We strolled together to the library and back from it everyday enjoying the company of each other. Bisi and i became very good friends and she introduced me to few of her friends who live around the neighbourhood too. One day while returning from the library i noticed that Bisi wasnt really her cheerful self. She remained quiet even after i tried to engage her in a conversation. I decided to respect her decision and maintain silence too.
Bisi: ‘my biological parents came over yesterday’ she finally broke the silence. I kept quiet so as to allow her continue but when she wasnt saying anything else i put in.
Me: ‘so, i’m guessing you havent met them before until yesterday?’ Bisi had once told me that she lives with a foster parents who loved her like their own. Her foster parents found her in a church building and on a cold saturday morning and took her to the police station but unfortunately they could not locate her parents and so the couple had to keep her. Last year a couple showed up at her doorstep when bisi was away and claimed that bisi was their child. Her parents drove them away angrily and ever since the matter has been in court.
Bisi: ‘nope. the judge wants me to spend time with them. It appears my parents are losing the case’
Me: ‘you dont know that for sure’
Bisi: ‘even though one is saying anything, i have eyes. In the last court sitting my parents came home unhappy. They had to sumon up courage to give me a 2 hours lecture on forgiveness and encourage me to spend some time with my biological parents. Then last night the couple came knocking at the door’
At home that night, i offered a silent prayer for bisi and her foster parents. I prayed that they win the case so bisi could continue living with them and be happy. Seeing her happy always makes me happy. She has always been cheerful except this past few days with worries of losing her foster parents. Knowing how it is to lose someone you love dearly and who has been part of your life since you can remember i felt for her. I pray she doesnt have to undergo the heartbreak of losing someone dearly either through death or separation. That night before going to bed, i sent her a joke text message just to cheer her up and then proceded to crashing.
I woke up the next day all sweating and panting, unable to tell if i was still sleeping or awake. I had had a very terrible nightmares and it was about my dad and uncle. Tried as i did to remember the details i could not. I only know it was a terrible nightmare inside which i dreamt i was dreaming. This was so frightening and confusing.
Men, after this dream i sprang up from the bed to wash my face. There was no going back to sleep again tonight…no sir. I brought out my book and began to force my tired brain to concentrate.
As i was struggling between sleep and concentration I heard sobbing coming from down the lobby. I listened carefully and heard whispering coming from same direction. It must be uncle and his wife again. this has been going on for weeks now. At night I hear sobs and whispering then the next morning my uncle and his wife look all cheerful and happy like nothing ever happened making me question my sanity. Well, whatever it is I am sure they will deal with it before tomorrow as usual. I reached for my phone and ear piece and started jamming ‘2face iheneme’ into my ears.
“emem what happened. I called your office and Donatus told me you called in sick. I have been calling your number since but no answer. Have you seen a doctor?” Sandra queried as she followed emem into the living room.
“please sit down Sandra, drinks and water is in the fridge while food is in the kitchen. Help yourself” emem said weakly as she took her seat and hug a throw pillow. Sandra became even more worried at emem’s behavior; she walked towards her and sat on the armrest of her seat.