The plan had been to post this on his next birthday but seeing him returning from work, respectability oozing from his features, I couldn’t help moving this a bit closer. He is looking all gentlemanly and could even pass for one. Sometimes I don’t believe it and expect him to go back to the little rascal he’s always been.
No child gave my parents as much headache as he did and trust me I do remember too many troubles he caused us, but one that stands out the most happened when he was only eleven years old.
He had been asking some unusual questions like; “So if somebody gets to Upper Iweka they’ve reached to our village ehn?”
My mum being a teacher and a very attentive mother who tried to turn every question into a lesson of some sort answered his questions in-depth and even over answered it without knowing what she was doing to herself. She must have been excited that at least one child was showing interest in his roots.
One rainy day, we were given mangoes to share. If you are from a large family like mine, sharing will become as natural as bathing. In fact, if you were given anything without being asked to share, check your body temperature. It’s likely you are sick and everyone but you has noticed. We shared everything even down to N1 sprint bubble gum and that day I was to share one mango with him.
“Go and bring knife and water let me share this mango.” I told him immediately he returned from school, but he asked me to give him the mango to go wash instead. I waited for long and I saw neither mango nor boy then just slept off. When I woke it was dark already. My parents were back, everyone was home, mango and boy were still missing. We began asking around but couldn’t find my brother.
My parents were already ranting about all they will do to him when he finally returns and my dad was wondering what gave him the audacity to be away that late.
“O ga agwa m ihe kara ya obi.” He kept repeating but as the night grew older and it became obvious that my brother wasn’t coming home, anger was replaced with concern. The police got involved. That night was a long one, everyone couldn’t sleep wondering where he had gone, but I was wondering why he was so greedy not to have given me my half of the mango before leaving. The more I thought about it the more convinced I was that he has cheated me on purpose and I got angrier.
While we worried, Eleven year old Ebube was on his way to Alafia with a bagco supersack containing his clothes and our mango. On getting there he asked for a bus going to Anambra and asked to meet the conductor. Now, he might have been a lot of things but he wouldn’t steal, so it happened that he had no money. He explained to the conductor that he was a house boy being maltreated by his madam and he was returning home to his parents in the village. Just imagine!
Trust Nigerians to take sides with the seemingly downtrodden. They all cursed his wicked madam, took pity on him and gave him free attachment seat and so began his very first night travel. By morning, he was already at Upper Iweka, there he asked for a bus going to Adazi-ani and gave the same sub story. You might be wondering why they were all so gullible. All you have to do is look at his face now, then imagine how much gentler and sympathy evoking he must have looked back then. Let’s just say Nollywood is missing a great actor.
Getting close to Adazi-ani, he asked them to drop him at the Catholic Church there which they did and even wished him luck for good measures.
Once inside the church, everything became a breeze, he called my grandma’s name, though that was unnecessary. The face had already spoken for itself and they went to fetch my grandma.
Prior to this my grandma had been begging them to bring us kids home for her but mhen, I’m sure she didn’t want it to happen this way.
So many questions and exclamations later they tried to reach us. There were no mobile phones at the time and though I like to call my village ‘small London in town’, getting a landline in my small London couldn’t have been easy.
Meanwhile you can just imagine the state of those of us in Lagos. Mango forgotten, I had joined in praying for him. Some neighbours explained that they saw him leave with a sack. Somehow those from the villa got through to us and told us he was there. While my parents were different degrees of relieved, we the kids were awestruck; we could never pull that off even given enough fare to travel. I didn’t even know any motor park in Lagos and I am four years older than him! He was something of a legend to our small minds.
He was also the first one to ever drive my dad’s car out in his absence. None of us had the courage to even consider it let alone actually do it. I remember how we all stood round him as he got into the car.
Agozie: Hehn, Ebube, are you sure you can drive it?
Me: You better come out from there. I’ll tell daddy.
Dindu: (Wrinkles his nose at him, daring him.) You cannot.
Joshua: I will tell daddy o (all the while smiling, visibly excited in expectation of an adventure and hoping he does it.)
He did it and when my dad returned no one said anything, until he stretched his luck thin by beating Joshua who finally reported him in vengeance.
Let’s just say this guy has done things; some I remember only in bits, most too long to include in one post. He should just pray that Karma is merciful to him because if his kids do to him half of what he did to my parents… Well, it’s his innocent wife I pity.
This is his birthday week and since all these came to mind i thought it might be a ood idea to wish him a happy one this way.
As for the moral lesson; if your child is troublesome today, worry not, they could be better tomorrow.