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Broken jinx

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Life had been so miserable for Mr. Emeka Okere who was repatriated from Germany a couple of weeks back. His almost five-year stay in the said country was summarily a waste, to assert the least. While in the country, he could obtain not even a pin owing to his uncalled lifestyle; he was so randy, and a drug addict to the core.

Ever since he returned Nigeria, precisely Mbaohia in Abia State – his ancestral home –, he had remained restless and mesmerized; the only thing he returned with was the earring he usually wore on the left side.

He kept roaming from one locality to another confusedly as he earnestly wished Nigerian diplomatic ties with Germany would forgive him of his past sins towards conveying him back to the latter. He was accused of theft, thus rather than prosecuting him, the concerned authority chose to retrace his steps back to Nigeria as that would be the only way the revered European nation would be freed from individuals of his like.

In spite of the untold misfortune that befell him, at the moment, all he could think of was how he would return abroad and continue with his rascality; hence, the reality was apparently yet to dawn on his person. Being the first born of his parents, everyone initially hoped on him not until sometime ago when they got the news of his unbecoming behaviour in overseas. It suffices to say that his abrupt deportation was absorbed as a welcome development by his siblings and kinsmen – particularly his aged mother – Madam Ndozi Okere, 76, who joined the widowhood fraternity about two years back when he was still in Germany.

They saw the repatriation as a golden opportunity to persuade the 45-year-old dude who wasn’t privileged to witness his late father’s burial ceremony, perhaps owing to lack of Permanent Residency Permit, to at least pick a marriageable lady in the village and settle down. On the contrary, Emeka was thinking differently from their kind and candid plans that they became of the view that the ostensibly good-for-nothing man was under a spell. “Emeka, my son.” his mum, Madam Ndozi called.

“Yes mama.” They were both seated adjacent to each other in separate settees in the family’s lounge at about 5:32pm on Saturday. The septuagenarian wore a single multi-coloured wrapper, grey top and low-cut hairs, whilst the dude who seemed not unlike a docked culprit was clad in brown three-quarter jeans, black T-shirt, plaited hairs and of course his earring as usual. The irony of their outlook was that the hairs of the woman were cut low while those of a man were plaited.“Why are you doing this to yourself?” the septuagenarian continued.

“What mama?” The old widow shook her head. “At 45,” she said. “Look at what you are doing to yourself.” She added, gesticulating. “I don’t understand you, mama.” he reiterated in false pretence. “What exactly are you talking about?” “I can see you are sick.” She observed.

“I mean, very sick.” “Me, sick..?” “Will you shout up,” she quarreled. “Are you looking normal?” “So, how do I look?” “Your two younger brothers are happily married with kids.” She enthused frankly. “And they are doing very well.” “So?” “Is that all you could say?” quoth Madam Ndozi, surprised. “So Emeka, that is all you could say?” she reiterated amid intense fury.

“And what did you expect me to say?” he said. “Or, I should start crying because my younger ones are all married and are doing well?” She shook her head again sympathetically. “Whosoever that did this to you will never see peace in his life.” she cursed. “Mama, I am okay.” claimed Emeka. “Stop bothering yourself.” “You are okay like this?” she said, gesticulating. “As you can see,” he insisted,spreading his hands. “I am perfectly okay.” “My son,” quoth Ndozi. “What I can see in you is nothing but doom.”

He was speechless and calm, became uneasy. “You really need deliverance.” she presumed. “That is the only way you can free yourself from this mess.” She just hit the nail on the head. Apparently, his son Emeka was deeply in need of rebirth towards overcoming the seemingly fathomless quagmire that beclouded his person. He needed not a soothsayer to come up with such a suggestion before he could have a rethink, yet it appeared his old mother was speaking in tongue right before him.

“What kind of deliverance are you talking about?” quoth Emeka, frowning. “Do I look ab“You look crazy and rejected, if you don’t know.” She ranted unequivocally. “Meaning?” he said. “How?” Madam Ndozi was silent. “My dear,” she called tenderly, gushed out tears.

“Your father died because of you.” She informed amidst the choking sobs. “Died because of me?” he echoed, got flushed. “Yes.” quoth Madam Ndozi. “After he learnt of your unruly behavior in Germany, he fell sick.” she clarified, paused. “And he didn’t recover from that sickness.” Emeka became sober, shocked over the information. “Are you sure of what you are saying?” “Am I sure?” she quarreled as she gasped for air.

“I am telling you what happened in your absence, you are asking if I am sure.” “Is okay, mama.” He enjoined, walked toward and began to console her. She was seemingly pleased by his gesture. She never knew he could still be kindhearted despite his weird transformation, social wise. “It is not okay, Emeka.” she argued. “It would be okay when you agree to get married and live like a responsible man.” “Mama, that is not my major plan right now.” He frankly notified as he was seated in the same settee with her.

“Not your major plan?” she verified. “Did I hear you right?” “Yes.” He clarified, looking elsewhere. “So, what’s your major plan?” There was absolute silence. “I want to go back to Europe.” He broke the brief silence. “Go back to where..?” “Europe, mama.” “If you try it, I will kill myself for you.” She shouted at the top of her voice.

“Mama, mama…” he urged calmly. “Don’t mama me ooh..” she said. “I can’t be a mother to someone who doesn’t know his left from right.” Before she could finish the last sentence, one of her sons – Chima – who lived in Calabar, Cross-River State walked in unannounced. It seemed he took them unawares. What transpired afterwards ought to be a story for another episode, so stay tuned.

 

 

• Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri

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Short Story

Rough end (II)

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As time progressed, during Obiora’s second year in the university as the best student among the overall 200 Level students of Petroleum Engineering department, he vowed to sustain his current Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) which was 4.75, with the aim of making his lovely parents proud just as he promised at the beginning of the journey. He continued with the tempo until he ran into Anayo, one of the students in the Business faculty. Anayo was a very notorious guy on the campus; it was only a new or academic minded student like Obiora that was yet to hear of him.

The former who was a final year student of Business Management department was a member of one of the most dreaded secret confraternities in Spectrum University – the Red Vulture, and he happened to be one of the leaders of the cult; it seemed his eyes had been on the latter from the moment he was recognized as one of the best students in his faculty.

That fateful day after lecture period – in the evening precisely – having been exhausted, Obiora thought it wise to chill himself with a bottle of cold soft drink and a snack in the university café. He wanted something that would sustain him till he got to his lodge where he could prepare a meal for himself, unknowingly to his person that someone had been spying on him all along.

The moment he entered the café, the kingpin followed suit after a few minutes and sat directly opposite him at the white plastic table he was making use of. On his part, Anayo requested for a plate of fried rice and a soft drink as well.

That was the first time he would be taking a meal with soft drink rather than beer, his usual brand; perhaps he never wanted his incoming prey to realize he was actually sharing a table with a nonentity or a party to a riffraff – a deceptive countenance indeed.

“Hi guy!” Anayo cheerfully greeted as he began to devour the meal. He was dressed in black three-quarter jeans, blue Tshirt, black face cap and white canvases. He seemed to be in his late twenties. “Hello.” responded the unsuspecting prey that was clad in blue jeans, green and white double-coloured shirt and a pair of black plain shoes. “Are you in this school?” He enquired in false pretences. “Yes, of course.” replied Obiora. “You must be a new student, I guess?” “Why do you think so?”

“Because you look so fresh.” the fair in complexion and innocently- looking kingpin who was plump and about 5.4-foot tall remarked. Obiora smiled broadly. “You must be kidding.” said the slim, about 5.6-foot tall and chocolateskinned young man who was in his early twenties, amidst the grin. “Honestly,” Anayo added.

“I am not joking.” “Okay, thank you.” “You are welcome.” quoth Anayo, paused. “I mean, always.” “So, what do I call you?” Obiora inquisitively enquired. “Anayo.” he replied, placing his heavy right arm on his guilty chest. “But they call me Whiskey.” “They?” “Ya, my friends.”

Anayo cleared the air. “Alright.” “And you?” “Okay,” Obiora said. “I am Obiora.” “That makes us brothers then.” “How?” “We are both Igbos, of course.” “Oh,” said Obiora. “You are absolutely right.” In spite of his dangerous nature, Anayo was undoubtedly a gifted clown. He had all it takes to win the heart of anyone that came on his way, and Obiora wasn’t exceptional.

Obiora was yet to make a close friend since he found himself at the four walls of univer-sity. And coming across Anayo whom he saw as a saint, gave him an opportunity to mingle with someone he could address as his confidant on the campus. After their stay at the café having exchanged all the needed pleasantries as well as contacts, they departed for their respective residents. Within a few days of their first meeting, they became best of friends. Those who knew Obiora too well especially his course mates became overwhelmingly astonished over his abrupt relationship with a dude who was regarded by all and sundry on the campus as a ‘monster’. They couldn’t believe their sight; initially they were of the view that they were daydreaming till the friendship metamorphosed into a more obvious and inseparable union. While these scenes were unfolding, Obiora started declining in his academic performances due to the reluctant attention he was giving to his studies, which was totally contrary to his real self.

In regard to this, his class adviser who had witnessed the drastic drop in his commitments confronted him in his office but Obiora lied that he had been sick and promised to improve soonest. After one month of coming across Anayo after severe and several persuasions, he made up his mind to join the Red Vulture confraternity. At this point, Obiora became a completely different creature socially, mentally, and otherwise.

Little did his parents know that their cherished and only son had been transformed into something else. Unfortunately, or fortunately for him, the first armed robbery operation he embarked on in the company of the gang landed him into a big mess. The intended criminal outing, which took place at night, was aborted by the police on their way to the proposed destination. Subsequently, they were charged to court while in the police net.

On receiving the information, they were all expelled from the university. Obiora’s parents couldn’t believe their fate. The rough end was the least they could imagine ab initio. After one month of the ordeal, Chief Okeke fell stroke in which he remained in coma for the first six consecutive weeks. The rest is history, please.

 

 

  • Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri

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Short Story

Rough end

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“Obiora my son,” Chief Okeke called in a low tone. “Yes daddy.” “It’s obvious that you are now an undergraduate.” Obiora who happened to be Chief Okeke’s only son just secured an admission into Spectrum University to study Petroleum Engineering. The said institution was one of the most respected tertiary citadels of learning across the East, Nigeria.

That fateful day, which preceded the day he was meant to leave home for the campus, his beloved father was actually giving him the needed counselling for the odyssey that awaited him. They both alongside his mother were seated at the family’s sitting room at about ten minutes to six o’clock in the evening (05:50 pm). “As my first child and only son,” continued Chief Okeke who sat directly adjacent to the chap in one of the two-in-one upholstery chairs. “I want you to realize that a lot of responsibilities await you.”

His wife Lolo Okeke who was seated beside him, nodded in agreement while Obiora listened attentively. Chief Okeke being a successful trader, who was precisely into motor spare parts, had all it took to cater for the boy’s education both financially and otherwise but his utmost worry remained the fear of the unknown. “Most importantly,” he proceeded.

“You must acknowledge that studying an engineering course in a university is not an easy task.” he asserted, paused. “So, I expect you to be extremely careful as well as mindful of your studies, which is the only way you can reach your success room.” Everywhere was tranquil as he passionately tendered the words of wisdom. “My son,” his mum chipped in. “You’ve to adhere to every instruction your dad is giving you.” she said, took a breath. “You are lucky you have a very wonderful and caring father which every child ever prays for.”

I promise, I won’t disappoint you dad.” Obiora assured. “And you, mum.” He concluded, looking at his mother’s eye sockets. “I pray your wish would remain your motivation.” Chief Okeke thought aloud in a jiffy. “Amen…” His wife emphatically complimented. “My son,” he rode on.

“All I want from you is to remain a good ambassador of this noble family.” Obiora quickly folded his arms tightly, became apprehensive. “Honestly, you have all it takes to excel.” Chief Okeke reminded. “Last time I checked, you had no reason to become a failure.” The wife concurred via a series of nods. “Before I conclude,” he proceeded tenderly.

“I must let you know one fact.” Obiora changed his posture. This time, he leaned his head on his right arm, which was standing firm on his right thigh. “In my dialect which is Igbo language” quoth Chief Okeke. “University is referred to as Mahadum,” he informed, paused. “It means, know it all.” The wife nodded, became more interested in the class.

“Therefore, you are meant to know everything about the world as well as all that is in it.” He said, took a breath. Obiora remained still in his sitting position, wasn’t distracted by anything around him not even the trespass of a snake. “But mind you,” his dad proceeded.

“You are only expected to be part of those ones that are morally acceptable.” Obiora nodded continuously for several seconds. “A word, they say,” quoth Chief Okeke. “Is enough for the wise.” He concluded. “Thank you, dad.” Obiora applauded, returned to his previous posture.

“My dear,” His mum followed suit. Obiora quickly fixed his gaze on hers.“I want you to take your prayers very seriously.” She instructed in strong terms, paused. “Endeavour to say your prayers at least twice in a day – in the morning and before you go to bed.” “Okay mum.” “And,” she continued. “Don’t ever forget to go to church every Sunday and whenever necessary.” Obiora nodded. “Please my son,” she rode on.

“You must note that your two sisters are looking up to you.” Chief Okeke nodded in appreciation. “So, you must always lead by example.” She landed. “Thank you, mum.” Obiora excitedly tendered. “Thank you, dad.” He supplemented, looking at them respectively. After Obiora’s first year on campus, he made excellent results in all his 100 Level courses, that, everyone in engineering faculty including his lecturers and fellow students became attracted to his person.

This made him an envy of all, including dick and harry. When they got the news, his parents were immensely impressed over the remarkable performance of their only son, though the said outcome wasn’t too surprising to them because Obiora had obviously been a very brilliant chap ab initio. He had maintained the brilliance right from his primary school days.

Owing to the fabulous results, his father Chief Okeke became more concerned over all the wants of the chap. In view of this, Obiora never lacked anything an undergraduate could boast of. Money was sent to him whenever he asked for it. All he needed was to ask, and it would be deposited in his bank account without much ado.

More appallingly, thereafter, they never took visiting him on campus as a priority again as they used to, since the chap had proven to them he was really taking his studies seriously. One popular Igbo adage would say ‘Ana eji ututu ama njo ahia’, meaning literally ‘a trader will never know if there would be poor patronage in a certain day going by the pace of sales in the early hours session of the day’.

To be continued, please.

 

  • Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri

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Short Story

Naughty he-goat

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“Hi, sweet sis!” Emeka greeted as he walked into Nkem’s bedroom. “Hello big bros!” She cheerfully responded. “I never knew you have a very pretty-looking girl friend.” He observed, still standing. “How do you mean?” She verified, lying in her bed. “I’m referring to Ada, of course.” “Oh,” Nkem exclaimed. “That’s my darling friend.” “Interesting.”

He added, nodding his head. Ada had been Nkem’s best friend right from their childhood. They both graduated from same secondary school some months back, and recently sat for JAMB examination.

That very day, Wednesday 17th of April 2013 to be precise, Ada visited Nkem at her home as usual but that was the first time Emeka set his eyes on her. Emeka, a twenty-one year old chap whom was a 200 Level student of Civil Engineering in the University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State and on his first semester holiday break, was Nkem’s immediate elder brother. He was about three years older than her. “I like her.” He continued.

“Hmm.” Nkem murmured. “I think she’s my dream girl.” “Dream girl?” She surprisingly asked. “But you hardly know her?” “That’s not an excuse, my dearest sister.” He quickly chipped in.

“Besides, I don’t think my friend would like a rascal like you.” She teased him. “Don’t bother about that,” he said. “Let that be my worry.” “I’m exhausted.” Nkem said. “I want to go to bed.” She requested, frowning. “Ok, suit yourself.” the lover boy replied, walked to the door and stepped out.

“This boy must be crazy,” Nkem soliloquized in her bed. “I pray he wouldn’t do anything silly towards my friend.” * * * * * “Nkem..!” Her mum whom was seated at the sitting room, called as soon as the door bell rang.

“Yes mum.” She answered in a high tone from her bed room. “Please, come and check who is at the door.” Nkem hurriedly stepped out of her room, walked towards the entrance to the lounge and quickly let the door open.

She perhaps needed not to verify who was at the door since the guest must have passed through a scrutiny at the gate. It was Ada, her best friend. She stepped into the parlour the moment the door was let open.

The slim and dark-skinned girl who was average in height, was clad in black trousers, white round-neck polo and brown sandals. That was exactly six days after her last visit. “Oh, is you!” Nkem excitedly uttered, closed the door.

There was no notice about her coming. She probably intended to take Nkem unawares. They hugged each other affectionately. On her part, her mum whom was still seated on one of the upholstery chairs, looked at them and shook her head in excitement.

Taking a close study at the teens as they hugged themselves, it’s only a man suffering from acute glaucoma that wouldn’t observe that they were really best of friends. “Good afternoon, mum!” Ada greeted, stylishly bowing her head as a mark of respect the moment she walked closer to Nkem’s mum. “Good afternoon, my dear.” she responded, smiling. “You are welcome.” “Thank you, ma.” Ada appreciated.

“How are your parents?” “They are fine, ma.” “And your siblings?” “They are all doing great, ma.” “Please, make yourselves comfortable.” She urged the duo, stood up and walked straight to her matrimonial room holding a magazine in her right hand. “Thank you, mum.”

Nkem happily dished out as her mum walked out of the parlour. Immediately, they sat very close to each other on one of the two-inone upholstery seats in the sitting room. “I learnt our JAMB results are out?” Nkem anxiously enquired. “Yes, you are right.” Ada replied. “I read it on Facebook yesterday.” “Interesting.” Nkem enthused. “Just barely few days ago we sat for the exam.” “JAMB is really improving.” Ada added. “So,” Nkem said.

“When will you check yours?” “I don’t know yet.” Ada responded. “I am scared.” “Me too.” “Maybe we should go together.” Ada suggested. “I think you are right.” Nkem concurred. “Let’s go tomorrow then?” “Okay, no problem.” Ada consented, paused. “What of your big bros?” She supplemented, referring to Emeka. Emeka was Nkem’s only brother, and the first child of their parents. They were only three in number including one other girl, Ndidi who was still in secondary school, Class four precisely.

“Oh, that one?” Nkem said. “He went to see one of his childhood friends in the neighbourhood.” “Okay.” Ada chipped in, nodding her head. “I think he would soon be back.” Nkem foresaw. “That your brother is lively and accommodating.” “Wow!” Nkem exclaimed in a low tone. “All these for him?” “Yes, he is.” Ada reiterated.

“The little time I had with him the last time I was here is enough evidence to prove that.” “Hmmm.” Nkem murmured. “Don’t tell me you are falling for my brother?” She teased cheerily. Ada smiled. “Not what you think.” She was opportune to have a good and lengthen chat with Emeka during her previous visit, and that was the first encounter she had had with him. After few minutes, at about 4:17pm, Emeka walked into the lounge clad in black baggy jeans, red and green shirt, black canvasses coupled with a red face cap.

“I told you, he would soon be back.” Nkem reminded. “Oh, pretty!” Emeka exclaimed from afar having sighted Ada. “You are here?” He said, gladly stepped closer to them. “Yes,” Ada replied. “I’ve spent over thirty minutes here.” “Are you serious?” He amazingly tendered, sat adjacent to them.

“And as a matter of fact,” Nkem interrupted. “We were just discussing you before you arrived.” “And what were you guys saying about me?” He curiously inquired. “That you are a naughty boy.” Nkem pulled his legs. Ada smiled, tapped Nkem on her left lap. “Is that true?” He asked Ada. “It is a lie.” Ada cleared the air.

“Don’t mind her.” “Nkem, so you haven’t offered her anything?” Emeka observed after a brief silence, frowned. “Oh, I almost forgot.” Nkem said. “I am so sorry dear.” She told Ada, stood up immediately.“No qualms.” Ada said, smiling. “Apology accepted.”

Nkem quickly walked away to gather some drinks for herself and her guest. That was a great and golden opportunity for Emeka to accomplish his intended mission. “Baby, you are indeed a very beautiful girl.” He complimented her the moment his kid sister walked out. “Really?” Ada exclaimed. Amazed. It seemed Ada had already developed a soft spot for him, because the compliment was apparently highly welcomed by her person.

“Of course, you are.” he reiterated. “Honestly since the last time we met, my thoughts have been occupied with you.” “Oh, my God!” She voiced out. “Are you serious?” The last question was like a challenge to Emeka. He then stood up and quietly relocated to Ada’s seat, exactly where Nkem was seated. This time, his face was deeply focused on hers. “Baby, honestly I am in love with you.” He thought aloud.

Ada was deeply moved by the statement, which she had never received before in her whole life. Abruptly, she was completely enslaved by lust. She was ostensibly speechless and vulnerable. Her emotions couldn’t withstand Emeka’s deceptive countenance as her innermost system was filled with tremendous sensation. No doubt, her poor self was already in a romantic mood.

On his part, he appeared not unlike a predator that had gotten a prey for the day, thus felt like he was already on her. Emeka who seemed drunk, hurriedly took her right hand and held it tenderly. “If you give me the chance, I will prove to you how much I love you.”

He promised. She remained speechless and loosed just like a dummy displayed in a showcase in a certain supermarket. Therein, he shifted closer, calmly held her head with his two hands and began to kiss her repeatedly.

The moment he removed her stainless white top as the silly journey progressed, Nkem walked in with a tray in her hands containing bottles of drinks and some glasses. “What..!” She exclaimed on top of her voice on sighting the ugly and disgusting drama.

The tray fell on the tiled floor and its contents thoroughly got broke. On their part, Emeka and Ada who abruptly got back to their senses, felt like the world had come to an end; their legs remained gripped on the floor.

Ada particularly, couldn’t withstand the unimaginable shame. Their mother, who ran to the sitting room to verify the essence of the alarm, got fainted on sighting the eyesore. The rest is history, please.

 

 

  • Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri

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