Messiah
is the King of Kings, Messiah is the Lord of Lords. Allelu…uuu….ya….”
The
man who’d turned pastor in the bus enroute to Lagos sang.
Chekwube stared at the man sourly, she really didn’t want to
sing but keeping silent would be considered disrespect for God, so she sang
along. Her sister, Ola, sat beside her and sang with her eyes shut and her
voice as loud as a siren’s. Chekwube almost nudged her sister in the ribs but
suddenly remembered her mother’s advice.

“Your sister is now a married woman so you must respect her.
You must stop those stupid insults you throw at her from time to time and also
stop mocking her as well.” Her mother had chided.
“Tell her ooo…I am now a Mrs.” Her sister had said to her
with a sneer. “I am now a madam and I own my own home now!”
Those words had snapped something in Chekwube and suddenly
she’d blurted.
“I can come live with you! Youa re going to a faraway state
and you will miss home. Let me come and keep you company, atleast for a while.”
She had suggested.
Her sister and mother stared at her in surprise, and then
suddenly her sister burst into tears.
“I am so afraid….I don’t want to go to Lagos by myself.” Ola
bawled.
Chekwube knew she’d hit the jackpot. Atleast, in Lagos, she
could stay farway from her father’s eyes and he’d stall a bit in offering her
up for marriage to the next potential suitor.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Their mother chided. “When I was
getting married to your father, I was afraid too…at first but when I married
him, I toughened up. You don’t need your sister by your side to make life more
bearable for you besides, soon, she too will get married.”
Chekwube cringed at her mother’s words.
“You are going to Lagos. A big city and you know that you’re
not so good at speaking English like I am. I can help you navigate through life
in the city.” Chekwube said, throwing in her selling point.
“Bia Chekwube, shut up your mouth.” Her mother barked at
her.
Chekwube didn’t stop, it was either now or never.
“Sister Ola…” She said, adding the ‘sister’ to show that
she was ready to be the respectful and obedient sister. “You know that I am
right. Let me come with you….I don’t mind helping you with chores around the
house and…”
“Chewkube!” Her mother warned.
“Mummy, she is right ooo….she can come with me and help me
out besides, I need to have someone I’m familiar with, there with me.”
“You have your husband.” Their mother spat.
“Sister Ola…” Chekwube started.
“Do you want to add to your husband’s expenses? He’d have to
send her to school there in Lagos and…” Their mother said.
“My husband promises to do anything to make me happy and I’m
sure that paying Chekwube’s school fees there in Lagos will be no problem for
him.”
“Newly weds need some alone time with eachother before…”
Their mother started.
“I will not stand in their way.” Chekwube said quickly.
Even though her mother hadn’t been too happy with the idea,
Ola had rushed up to tell her husband about it and he’d agreed. Their father
wasn’t happy with it at first but the thought that his in-law was going to pay
his child’s school fees spurred him.
“Take Nkiru with you instead of Chekwube.” Their father had
said of Chekwube’s immediate younger sister. “She’s starting secondary school
in the new term and atleast; he would pay her fees for a while before she comes
home to marry. Chekwube is entering junior secondary three and that marks her
final class in school.”
At the end of it all, it was finalized, Chekwube could
accompany her sister to Lagos. Chekwube was thrilled. This was freedom! She
thought. She knew she’d have to come up with strategies to avoid returning to
the village till she was done with secondary school and then come up with extra
strategies to find her way into the university and achieve her dream of being a
Surgeon. She was thrilled as she suddenly realized that the discouraging words
her mother had said to her years ago when she’d told her about her dream was
about to be crushed.
“Listen, it is not good for a woman to aim too high in life,
especially to be a dockitor!” Her mother had said to her. “By the time you
become a dockitor, no man would marry you because they will say that you are
too smart.”
Now, seated beside her sister and singing with the
passengers in the bus, she was so sure that Lagos was going to offer bigger
opportunities than her village had. Suddenly, a text message came into her
sister’s phone and her sister quickly opened it and smiled.
“See….my husband is cooking jollof rice to welcome us in
Lagos.” Ola spilled, showing the text message to Chekwube.
Ola’s husband had left for Lagos a day after the wedding
while Ola had stayed back to arrange somethings before joining him.
“I am so excited.” Chekwube said in delight.
***************
Mickey bounced down the pathway of the large house where
twenty one tenants shared. She passed Jubril’s parents room on her way out and
hissed. Jubril had stopped talking to her since the day of their fight and his
parents had threatened to call the police if she ever hit their son again. She
was just making her way around the corridor when the pleasant smell of jollof
rice reached her nostrils.
“Mr. Nosike….” She hailed. “Dis ya jollof na ebeano ooo…”
“Yes ooo…” He replied, licking the back of the wooden
spoon with his finger tips.
“I fit come join you?” She asked.
“Nooo…e nor go even reach.” He said.
“Na wah for you sha….you too stingy! Igbo man!” She
taunted. “Wia ya wife? Shebi dem talk say you go marry for village.”
Mr. Nosike gave her a huge smile and said.
“My wife dey on her way to Lagos as we speak.”
“You mean am? So we go increase for yard be dat na and our
soakaway go quick full.” She said.
Mr. Nosike didn’t find the statement funny, he frowned.
“Wetin dat one come mean na?” He spat.
“I nor mean anything ooo…I just dey talk…anyway, nor be
you dey cook rice? Before you know am now, you go run enter toilet.” She said.
“Mickey….or wetin be ya name….nor dey talk rubbish for
my front. I nor be bachelor again, na married man you dey see hia so.”
“You see as I dey contest am? I know say you be married man
na. Anyway, I dey comot since you nor wan share ya rice.”
Mr. Nosike looked at her sourly and said.
“I go remain small give you but dis go be de last time you
go shook eye for my food ooo…abeg try behave when my wife come hia ooo. I nor
want make she think say na so we dey share food for compound.”
“No problem sah!” She said placing her hand on her head in a
mock salute.
“Ehen! Mickey, e get one question I be wan ask you.”
“Wetin be dat?”
“My wife dey bring her sister come and de gial wan make I
helep put am for school for hia. Shebi una school nor dey collect school fees?”
“Na government na! If dem collect school fees dat one go
mean say dem be private school.”
Mr. Nosike smiled.
“Okay…errm…I want make you show me how to put am for
school….for ya school.” He said.
“Dat one na for my mama hand e dey. You go ask am because she
know dem teachers for dat my school so….” Mickey said.
“Okay….thank you. When I see am, I go ask am.”
“Na go I dey so….wen rice done, I go return.” Mickey said
bouncing off.
Mr. Nosike watched her leave and shook his head, Mickey was
a troublesome girl who acted twenty-five instead of sixteen.
Michelle Ibinabo Koma was nicknamed Mickey by her elder
brother, Justin. He’d formed the name from her initials, M.I.K and added a Y to
it hence the name, Mickey. She was the only girl child in the family of four
boys who terrorized the neighbourhood in their own way. Her brothers could be
spotted at junctions chasing down bikes, buses and keke’s, demanding money from
them and claiming to be council members. Her eldest brother, Fred, also known
as Freddo, died two years ago after chasing a bus on the highway for money. He
had been crushed to death by an uncoming trailer. Mickey had been affected by
his death and so was the rest of her family but instead of crying and wailing
like they did, she had sat at the back of the house, breaking Mama Chima’s palm
kernels till her hands were sore. Mickey was tough and she never shed a tear. She
looked up to her brothers and wanted to be like them even though her mother
told her times without number that being part of the road council, popularly
known as ‘Agbero’s or touts’ in Lagos, was no occupation for a girl.
Nevertheless, she wanted to be like that so she terrorized people in her own
little way. She terrorized her school mates and her agemates in the compound
and making people’s lives a living hell, made her day.
***************
Gbenga sat on the chair at the balcony of his father’s house
and stared at the vast compound where his father’s four cars sat proudly. This
was going to be his, someday, he thought. He’d heard his father’s friends refer
to him as his father’s only heir countless times and he knew that for the rest
of his life, he’d never be poor as long as his father kept acquiring assets for
himself.
The new term begins soon and he’d been promoted after two
failures into Junior secondary three, also known as Basic nine. It wasn’t as
though he did any better in his last term examinations, it was just that the school
was already tired of having him in one class two times in a row. He had already
written his list of gadgets for the new term.
“I need a new watch, an expensive one. A new
phone….well….scratch that….I need a brand new laptop….the one I’m using
is already one year old, I need a tablet….I need a…” He muttered to
himself.
“Gbenga!” His father’s voice shook him.
“Dad…” He turned to regard his father.
“We need to talk.” His father said to him.
Gbenga knew the serious look when he saw one and his father
was giving him the ‘I’m not in the mood
for jokes’
kind of look.
“What’s up dad?” He asked.
His father walked over to stand before him and leaned
against the balcony railing.
“I spoke to your lesson teacher.”
Gbenga rolled his eyes.
“What does that man want? I attend his lessons and do his
assignments…” He whined.
“You are not improving at all….he told me that you can’t
even spell correctly and that it’s as though you’re still in primary one.”
“Ah! Me? Primary one? That teacher is…”
“Hold it Gbenga! I see that you have been taking your
education for granted and from today, I am going to change that.”
“What do you mean by that, dad?”
His father looked at him a sighed.
“I can’t keep spending so much money on your education when
I get nothing from it. Most of your mates are already through with school and
the others are in senior secondary school already.”
Gbenga looked at his father with bated breath.
“I have thought about this carefully and I have received advice
from people; some told me to have you join a trade but I won’t do that.
Everyone is entitled to an education.”
Gbenga’s breath escaped from his nostrils in a whoosh.
“I am changing your school.” His father said.
“Finally! Thank God you’ve realized that the school is all
about money and not about quality education.” Gbenga said.
“I am enrolling you into a government school, pending till
your grades go up. So, if you don’t up your grades, you will remain….”
“What? Dad! That’s a useless idea!” Gbenga shouted jumping
off his chair.
“It’s either that or nothing at all! I am not spending a
dime on your education till you prove to me that my money is worth the trouble!
Do you understand me?”
“Dad…what will my friends say? What will people say? Me? A
public school? Isn’t that supposed to be for those whose parents are poor?” He
cried.
“Well, that’s where you’re wrong. I attended a public school
and my parents weren’t poor.”
“But that was your time daddy! This is now! Private schools
are for rich kids and I’m a rich kid! I am your only child…your only…”
Gbenga broke down in tears.
“My mind is made up Gbenga. If you really want out of the
public school, then surprise me! Show me that you can be better at your studies
and I’ll enrol you in a private school of your choice.” His father said and
walked out on him.
“Dad! Daddy please…please….” He cried bitterly as he
knew that his father had made up his mind.

 

To be continued next week…..

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