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NOMA’S DREAM – EPISODE ELEVEN

NOMA’S DREAM – GRACE OCHIGBO

EPISODE ELEVEN

 

Patrick couldn’t believe who his eyes is seeing. A yawn escapes his mouth and he wipes his eyes with the back of his left palm. Perhaps, the early morning sunrise shining brightly on his eyes is affecting his horizon of vision. He steps out and closes the door, still holding onto its handle.

“Òlòdùdù, Mr P.” She greets.

Patrick smirks. When did Agefu become suddenly respectful as to greet him ‘good morning’ so easily? She must have woken up on the good side of her bed today. It doesn’t seem so though, because the young woman in front of him right here looks like a shadow of the vibrant and vivacious Agefu he’s always known.

“Mr P…” The young lady starts, and Patrick practically positions his ear so as to hear her properly. His eyes appear to be saying, ‘say something stupid and I’m back inside and on my bed faster than the speed of light’.

“I no come here for fight but to apologize, Mr P.”

That takes Patrick off balance and he knows an interesting scene is about to kick off.

“Staying behind bars changes one in ways we cannot imagine.” Agefu fixes her gaze on the handle of the door so as to avoid Patrick’s firm gaze. “It’s unfortunate I had to learn from my own experience.”

Patrick opens his mouth to say something but Agefu isn’t done yet.

“I didn’t expect that you guys will call the station to grant me bail. You see…” She holds his gaze now. “I thought I knew enough persons in this state to save me in times of troubles, but everyone neglected me.” A pained sniff escapes her.

“It’s alright, Agefu. It’s alright, OK? You are out now. No one is going to put you behind bars if you don’t do anything bad henceforth.” Patrick shrugs carelessly. “Like attempting to kill someone’s woman…”

“I need to apologize to Akoji, Patrick. Please.” She clasps her hands in a pleading posture. “I know the guy must hate me like shit now, but I really want to apologize. If I truly loved and desired him as I claimed, I should never have thought to hurt someone he loves. It’s wrong and I’m truly sorry.”

Patrick sighs and turns down the door knob. He glances over the lady’s shoulders before turning and going inside the house, leaving the door open after him. Agefu hesitates for some seconds before following Patrick into the house.

Inside, Patrick is sitting cross-legged on one of the couches and Agefu couldn’t place what’s going on. The room gives away his bachelorhood. Everything is functional. The center table is where he puts his keys and gym door opener. On the side stool beside him is a wrench set and new set of tools for most likely one of his faulty machines in the gym. Under that stool is a pack of Don Simon. Agefu can bet that his fridge-freezer holds meal for one and he has more clothes in his laundry basket than in his closet. Initially, she’d hoped that Patrick was taking her to meet Akoji inside, because she had been to Akoji’s apartment a couple of times this week and it’s been under lock and key. There are no two places the young man can be, his house or Patrick’s. Only that Patrick doesn’t appear to be having any company at the moment.

“It was Akoji and Noma who called the police station and asked them to release you actually. And before leaving, Akoji charged me with the duty of making sure you were released without further ado.”

“Before leaving? What do you mean, Mr P.?”

Patrick lets a coy smile dance around his face as he sees the genuine curiosity in Agefu’s eyes.

 

*****

 

Noma’s firmly shut eyes were forced open by a light tap. Jerking up, she turns questioning eyes in the direction of whoever it was that touched her.

“Madam, we don reach.”

“Uhmmm?” She’s trying to boot.

“We don reach, madam. Na the place be this!” The middle-age man riding the cab she’s sitting in its backseat affirms and just then it strikes and Noma’s eyes clears faster than sweat in harmattan. She had slept off, drowned in her own thoughts. Every single damn thing makes her think deeper than usual lately. Mrs. Gina agreed. She had to agree after all, because Noma didn’t make a request, she’d demanded to be allowed to do what her brain considers most appropriate.

She dips her hand in her clutch and bringing out new one-thousand Naira notes; she hands them over to the cab driver. Her brain has failed to remember the exact fare concluded on after the unusually long moment of bargain at the park and the magnificence she’s viewing in front of her makes her want to care less. She’s usually not one to bargain because she believes paying for some purchases should come from a perspective of desiring to bless the person’s hustle rather than seeking selfish satisfaction. No man enjoys putting himself out in the sun if not in search of the most volatile thing yet – money. Learning about the peculiarity of the city she’s in however, she’d decided to drop her charity side back in the house.

“Madam, your change?” The driver calls out to Noma who’s already stepping out.

“Keep it!” She says, giving a light smile.

Rains upon rains of appreciation pours off the driver’s mouth as he starts the engine.

Noma steps from the black car, gaping at the large mansion that set beyond the sidewalk, towering over her as if attempting to intimidate her. The all-white coating of the paint shined as the evening sun beats down on it, causing Noma to have a squint. Uniquely twisted fencing keeps the house enclosed, neatly trimmed hedges surrounds the house. The roof is peak slanting down at an angle. The windows have royal gold curtains hanging on the other side of them, drawn so that the sunlight could stream through.

As she steps onto the sidewalk, Noma notices a marble fountain sitting towards the right side of the lawn. A lion with a widely opened mouth is perched on top, looking up towards the sky. Water spurt from its raised forelimbs, which stretches out in front of it as if attempting to jump at a foe. The water falls gently towards a crystal blue pool beneath it, causing ripples to form and wave out until there’s no more.

Bushes trimmed into all sorts of statutes littered the parts of the lawn that is not taken up by the fountain and Noma stands, with jaw almost dropping to the floor, staring at the adorable work of art that makes the place appear more or less like a museum. The sculptures had been made long ago by masters of the craft. They were set on pedestals amid the water of the fountains and the perfectly manicured hedges that looked like different animals.

“Who are you?”

A harsh thundering voice startles and brings her back from her thoughts. She feels so intimidated and afraid she couldn’t raise her head.

“I said, who are you?” The voice comes again, this time even more roaring than the first.

“I… I…” Noma stammers, her face staring at the ground as though she read something from it.

“Who’s that, Ejike?”

Noma hears a woman’s voice inquiring from afar off and only then did she regain her confidence back, enough to look up.

To the far left is a woman dressed in a gorgeous regalia and with several beads adorning her neck, waist and hair. She holds onto a fan, large enough to give air to a small community and is being accompanied first by two ladies, scantily dressed with a wrapper around their waist and another around their chest. They also have beads adorning their fair smooth skin but none is close or as glistering as the ones on the beautiful robust woman in their midst. Two hefty young men follows the ladies closely, holding to their sides what Noma supposes for a machete but she’s careful not to let anything distract her from focusing on the people approaching her.

“Your highness.” The harsh man standing just at arm’s length to Noma hails, bowing his head courteously.

“Who’s she?” The older woman asks; her voice is so kind it can melt the hardest hearts.

“I just noticed her staring, Lolo. I only went to…”

Noma blinks as the woman just referred to as ‘Lolo’ raises her hand to wave off the man’s next statement. The guard was probably going to reel out his excuses and reasons for not knowing how and when a stranger got so close.

“Beautiful young lady, how are you and how may we help you?”

Noma’s heart skips a thousand beats before returning to its resting state. She swallows with fright spelt boldly on her eyes. “I… I … my… my name is…” she stammers and Lolo urges her to go on. She swallows again. “Well ma, my… my name is Noma… Ojonoma ma, and … and I … I am asking after Akoji.”

“Akoji?” Lolo’s face beams out in pleasant surprise, so obvious that the face of the guard behind her seem to be questioning why the woman looks overtly excited.

“You are welcome, my darling.” Lolo says, gesturing to one of the ladies who takes her handbag.

Not fully aware of where’s up to, Noma didn’t bother to take more than a single change of clothes in her handbag. Her intention is to find Akoji. Find him and tell him that she loves him. Oh yes! She does. After learning that Akoji took out money, though illegally, from the bank’s treasury to help her and how that she could muster the boldness to let Hallie go in for surgery because of that grant she got, she wanted to come tell him face-to-face that contrary to whatever feeling of disappointment in himself he may be having, she’s not in any way disappointed. She’s always known that love makes people do stupid things and it means the whole world to her that Akoji shows her what stupid sacrifice could look like as long as love is concerned.

“Uloma, let Akoji know that he has a visitor.”

“The pri…” The lady wants to ask further.

“Go let him know right away. Hurry!” Lolo interrupts, hurrying her up.

“There’s a beach just beyond that palm tree…” Lolo points Noma’s attention to something in the direction where they came from earlier. “Just behind those…”

Noma squints her eyes and now can see what the woman is pointing to. The beach lay just beyond the palm trees as she rightly mentioned, grasses forming into sands.

“I planted a garden somewhere there.” Lolo brings back Noma’s attention as they start to move towards the big black gate. Above it is an inscription, ‘Obi of Onitsha’s Palace’. Noma feels her brain reading it aloud as she’s also struggling to concentrate on what the kind beautiful older woman is trying to say.

“Gardening, we may say, is my hobby. And most evenings like this, I love to take a walk in the dim sunlight. I go to trim and weed and make sure that the garden isn’t overgrown.”

Noma reflexively looks behind at the direction of the beach. Perhaps she may be able to see the garden the older woman is passionately talking about.

More talks, a little here, a little there about Lolo’s treasured garden and in the long distance from the gate to the front of the house, Noma can literally picture how green the garden must look now.

Noma walks into a mansion and sees the tallest ceiling ever. Lovely crown molding, a table in the center, two flights of spiral staircases going up to the second floor, the floor is ceramic tile. There are pricey things all over the place. The room is like a perfect magazine cover.

“Make yourself comfortable,” Lolo says. “Akoji will be with you shortly. But I have to go take a shower.”

Noma nods all smiles as the woman turns to take her leave. She looks so gorgeous.

So gorgeous, she almost exclaims.

The excitement on the woman’s face could mean either of two things. That of a mother finally excited to meet her most-talked-about son’s fiancée or a concerned mother finally excited that a girl could come ask after her ‘lonely’ son.

Noma is afraid to sit in case she wrinkles the fabric or stain it with something she doesn’t even know is on her dress. The couch is cream but inlaid with a fine golden silk; leaves embroidered so delicately that they might have landed there in spring and just sunk in, but she knows they took hundreds of hours to sew. Cautioning herself, she sits anyway.

“Lolo says to ask what you would love to have, ma’am.”

The maids here are pretty too polite and courteous, she admits.

Readjusting her weight on the soft sofa, she looks up, “Erhmm… water is fine, please. Thank you!” Noma says on a dismissive note with a subtle prayer that the young lady wouldn’t politely ask her what sort of water she may need. In wealthy people’s homes, she’s heard everything is categorized such that there could be cold water, hot water, semi cold, semi hot, normal temperature, room temperature and earth temperature water. Thankfully, the lady just turns around and head back to where she’d appeared from earlier and Noma finds herself letting out a breath she didn’t know she’s been holding onto. She relaxes properly into the seat this time.

In the length of time she’d have to wait for Akoji to ‘join her shortly’, she would just pick up her tablet and keep tapping the surface until another person comes to talk to or question her.

 

*****

 

“My prince, I… I don’t know if it’s…”

A loud tap on the door interrupts the young lady sitting what appears like fifty kilometers away from where Akoji is sitting. There are at least ten bedrooms in this mansion, each one with a different theme and a bathroom of its own. But Akoji’s own room is a complete apartment in all regards; with a sitting room and kitchen attached, that’s aside the lounge and resting place outside his east side door. He’d sit there some nights to reflect and ponder; that’s his surest way of getting out of planet earth into a world he’s created for himself. A world more condoning of his excesses and flaws.

“You see, Nkechi. I…” Another knock on his door and his brain seem to go on recess. “Who the heck is that?” He yells at the top of his lungs.

“Open the door, son.”

Akoji almost holds his mouth on hearing his mother’s voice. The woman shouldn’t be back in the palace yet, better still, she shouldn’t be knocking his door. Hadn’t she convinced him to at least meet and talk with the maiden herself and father thinks he should marry? It’s barely an hour since they started talking, and if disturbances come here and there like this, there will be making no progress at knowing the basics about themselves at all.

“You didn’t open up the door for Uloma. She says she’s been at your door in the past half an hour.”

Akoji scoffs at his mother’s exaggeration, leaving the door so the older woman can come in, not before casting an angry look at the timid maid behind his mother.

“I was beginning to have a serious conversation, mother.  As you and…” then he admonishes himself against that part of the statement.

Nkechi goes on her knees to greet Lolo and the latter pulls her up almost immediately. Nkechi is quite the beauty, but seeing her up close only reinforces that truth. She is of fair complexion, long wisps of umber streaked with highlights of ginger that always seem to gleam when they capture the light just right. She has the kindest pair of coffee brown eyes trimmed by long gorgeous lashes. Lovely eyes, yet somehow gentle, that always held a tiny warmth within them.

“I hope the prince has been kind to you, daughter?” Lolo asks, smiling.

Nkechi steals a glance in Akoji’s direction before returning her gaze on Lolo. “Your son, the prince, is a worthy man, Lolo and I feel so honored sitting in his presence and learning from his wealth of experience in the past minutes.”

Akoji scoffs loudly.

Politicians everywhere, he’s about to respond but the next statement from his mother baffles him.

“Nkechi dear,” Lolo places a hand on Nkechi’s shoulders. “I would love to have a conversation with my son.” Akoji’s eyes pop open and as if that’s not enough. “My regards to your parents, Nkechi. Tell your mother that I’ve not forgotten the àkò.”

Nkechi, realizing her time is up from the dismissive statements by Lolo, turns shy eyes in the direction of Akoji. “Good evening, my prince.”

Akoji raises his hand. “Good evening, fair maiden.”

“Go well, daughter.” Lolo quickly ends the coming deliberate hesitations and the lady exits the room in milliseconds.

“What was all that for, mum?” Akoji voices out as soon as the door closes behind Nkechi.

Lolo looks blank initially. Her eyes are so blazed it could flavor a thousand doughnuts.

“She came, Akoji. She came all the way.”

Akoji looks from his height at the woman’s shoulders to her lips. She, who? He’s confused.

“Your single mother lover.”

Alarm hits Akoji’s head but he’s careful not to run ahead of himself. “You mean?”

Lolo nods her head in the affirmative. “Yes, son. She’s downstairs.” She fixes her eyes squarely on Akoji and watches as his guards gradually melt down. “Noma is in the visitor’s sitting room.”

Akoji suddenly feels like his ankles can no longer bear his weight and gradually he falls until his buttocks hit the couch.”

 

****

 

“Come up right here,” Mrs. Gina gestures loudly but pauses expecting to hear a giggle which never came. Hallie would usually giggle whenever this part of the Roald Dahl’s Novel ‘Matilda’ is read out to her. She loves it; the sound of it, the concept. Not hearing her giggle now and looking down in her direction, Mrs. Gina sees the little girl’s eyes tightly shut.

Dropping the book on the shelve right beside the bed, Mrs. Gina gets up and pulls the duvet over Hallie. The little girl, though better, gets easily fatigued and exhausted. The older woman bends to place a peck on the girl’s thin cheek and with her right hand, she picks Hallie’s hand to place a peck on it.

Noma, for the first time in her life realized that someone else could be looked out for, sought after. Noma had no other care in the world aside Hallie, or so Mrs. Gina usually think. That was why it was pleasurable to hear Noma ask for permission to go in search of Akoji, in search of someone she’s come to like… love. Mrs. Gina didn’t hesitate in consenting to Noma’s demand and the rest in history. Things love make someone do.

Mrs. Gina feels a tightening onto her hand and that brings her attention to Hallie. The little girl’s eyes are now open and a faint smile dances around her face.

“Hey angel, you slept off on your favorite part of Matilda.”

Hallie looks tired. Either she doesn’t know what to say or doesn’t have energy to speak.

“Go on and rest, OK? I’ll get something for you to eat.” Mrs. Gina says this, trying to pull her hand off Hallie, but the latter is not letting go.

“Where…” Mrs. Gina hears the little girl’s faint voice coming out like a forced whisper. “is mum?”

Mrs. Gina feels the muscle of her chin tremble. She glances around the room for want of something to say and suddenly she seems to be noticing every single thing; from the wardrobe to the drugs scattered on the wooden table standing to the left side of the bed, to a neatly folded wrapper belonging to and reminding her of Noma. Everything appears to be calling her attention at the moment.

“Grandma,” Hallie calls out softly.

“Yes! Yes, my angel.” Mrs. Gina takes a seat beside her, trying as much as possible to look less suspicious.

“Where is mum?”

The question comes again; the little girl’s voice comes like a distressed child, raw from the inside.

 

*****

 

Noma shifts uncomfortably on her seat. The tablet she’s tapping on its screen has refused to distract her. She wants to take her mind from pondering over the magnificence of this mansion. The beautiful mosaics on the walls, and ornate rods including carved statures all give a celestial undertone to the house. Just a while ago, a young lady, probably Noma’s age or some few months younger, had stormed out of the house. She looked angry from the way her foot thumped the entire circumference of the route she walked by. Downstairs, the young lady had stopped, for a little while to give Noma a cold look before proceeding. She looked adorable, Noma must confess. She’s not like the other ladies Noma has been seeing since she got here. This one smelt royalty and no doubts, she must be a princess.

“My prince!” Noma gets up and mimics obeisance as soon as Akoji walks into the sitting room

Akoji feels taken aback and couldn’t take his eyes off her for a moment. “You knew?”

“Knew?” Noma sounds sincerely confused. “Knew what?”

“That I’m a prince?” He asks, shame filling his tone. “Did you know before now that I am a prince? And… and… are you not mad at me?” Akoji focuses more on her eyes, his curiosity building like a cat fixated upon its prey

Waves of heat courses through Noma’s blood in the fully air-conditioned sitting room. She turns her face sideways to avoid Akoji’s mesmerizing stares and the glass of water on the golden center table stares back at her. Her emotions are not easily hidden on her innocent face. She lets a smile dance freely on her face now as she slowly closes the little gap between them.

Noma traces Akoji’s lips lightly with the tip of her finger. It pouts slightly and she feels such an urge to bite it, to kiss it, to wrap them both in a quilt and listen to their gentle breathing, watching the only sound in the room coming from the large ticking clock and both of them sharing crooked smiles. Akoji’s lips feels slightly chapped under her feather light touches. Noma lost control over her own actions.

He has grown irresistibly more handsome, she thought.

His eyes are mesmerizing deep ocean blue, flecks of silvery light performed ballets throughout. Noma seems to have forgotten for several minutes that she’s right in the sitting room of the Obi of Onitsha’s palace.

“Sweetheart!” She voices out, a whisper.

Akoji smirks jokingly. “Sweetheart? That’s what you call everyone. I’m not about to become one of those, am I?”

Noma grins, pulling his face nearer hers. “OK, Honey?”

“Honey?” Akoji rolls his eyeballs.

“Babe?” Noma’s forehead squeezes. “Baby?”

“Baby!” Akoji repeats, smiling childishly. He brings his hands to hold onto her hair.

“Hi Baby!” Noma says as a single teardrop rolls down her face. “It’s been 7 days, 14hours, 23minutes and 9seconds,” Akoji’s eyebrow raises in awe. “…since you ran away with my heart and every single day we weren’t together is every day I missed you. I love you, Akoji. It took me until you were gone to realize this. I love you, I love you, I love…”

A loud applause jerks them back. Noma didn’t realize her voice had risen loudly to draw everyone’s attention to where they are standing in the center of the sitting room with faces merely inches away from each other.

Akoji wraps his hands around Noma’s waist as he turns to face where his father, maids and some guards are standing and clapping really excitedly.

“I’m proud of you, son.” The man screams out from that distance.

Akoji smiles and returns his eyes to Noma whose eyes are now dripping with tears. The tears burst forth like water from a dam, spilling down her face.

“I ran, Finest girl. I am sorry I did. I had to.” He sighs. “When I met you, I’d already lost my ability to love.” He steals a glance in his father’s direction. “But then you cat-walked right into my life. There was something in those brown eyes of yours that was so beautiful, so safe and warm. In just one look I was ‘home’. I reached out and made a connection, and like God himself had arranged it, you fell for me just as hard.”

Noma rolls her eyeballs, smiling amidst her tears while giving him a playful nudge on his side.

“Ouch!” Akoji screams in pain. “That was painful.”

“That’s how it’s intended to be, Baby. What are you feeling like?”

Akoji smiles, dragging her even closer. “Like my soul is knit with yours.” He whispers. “You are worth my life, Finest girl, and all that I have left is yours.”

Noma is about to say something but,

“Shhh!” He places a finger on her full lips. “I love you, Ojonoma! I truly…”

“What?” An unpleasant exclamation draws their attention and they both turn to look in that direction as though planned.

 

****

 

Prof Akpa hurries out of the Theatre Arts hall. He’s impressed. Indeed, he is. If there’s a better way to say that, then. As he sat in front of the stage to watch students of the performing arts department bring in their A game, he’s more than certain that the Obi would be beyond wowed with their presentation on that day. ‘Cos that’s the goal. He was beyond wowed with Chief Mbah’s presentation the other day and truly can’t wait to throw back his shot. However his wife wants to look at it – you are taking the competition too far; you don’t have to impress everyone all the time or see everyone as a threat or challenge to you – all those are her business. He derives pleasure in reaching for a mark and hitting it. Wasn’t that how he finally emerged the first non-state indigene to become the vice chancellor of the revered University of Ilorin? If he never saw life as a competition and that you always have to come to the table with your A game if you mustn’t starve, he wonders where his family would be now, even his wife that’s always preaching ‘modesty’.

“Sir…”

“Yes. Mr. Lawani…” He puts a hand on the man’s shoulders. “I must say I’m pretty impressed at the work you’ve been doing.”

Mr. Lawani lets his ego rise but not for too long because he can bet on his name that the VC cannot give a harmless compliment without,

“But you have to work harder. There’s no limitation to what you can do. You can always do better.”

Mr. Lawani takes in a deep breath. “Thank you, Prof.” He cautions his spirit not to feel damp. “The students are, as always, honored to have you around today. And to spare some time out of your tight schedules to sit and watch them perform means a lot to the department, sir.”

“This project is particularly important to me and please, don’t hesitate to let me know if you need anything. I saw the costumes on the dancers. Perhaps we can get more fashionable ones and…”

Don’t you ever take a harmless compliment, Mr. Lawani is about to spill off the thoughts running in his head as the VC rattles on and on about how important the presentation is to him and how they mustn’t mess anything up.

Prof Akpa is still talking when the phone in his hand buzzes and begins to ring.

“Excuse me, please.” He raises a finger and Mr. Lawani steps aside as Prof picks the call. “Yes.” He pauses, glancing his eyes from one direction to another as if to be sure no one is watching out for his voice. “Ehen? OK. I’ll be there.” He pauses to listen to the person on the other side of the phone. “I said I would be there now.” He yells, not much but loud enough to stagger Mr. Lawani on his position at a distance.

Seeing Prof. Akpa pocketing his phone, Mr. Lawani rushes back to where he left. “Is everything OK, Prof?”

The latter, booming with so much anger Mr. Lawani doesn’t seem to know the cause.

“You know all these women; one cannot say what it is that can satisfy them.” Prof Akpa says, gross spite in his voice. “They expect that one should just start running whenever they call, not knowing everyone is busy with a lot of things.”

“Ehhh. Geskia.” Mr. Lawani affirms and that would be his greatest undoing yet. Scared and at the same time, feeling awkward with the silence looming in the atmosphere, he decides to break it. “I guess the most revered Professor Mrs. Iye Akpa needs her husband at home.” He smiles coyly.

Prof Akpa gives him a stony look; so gross that if eyes carried guns, Mr. Lawani would have been long gone before finishing that statement.

“Take Prof Iye out of this.” Prof Akpa warns sternly. Provocation spelling out clearly in his voice.

“I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to anger you, sir. I’m sorry sir…” Mr. Lawani resounds again and again, almost dropping to his knees. He cannot say which part of his statement angered the Professor. Then it occurred to him that the prof was lamenting over ‘women’. He specifically said ‘women’ not ‘wife’. All wives may be women but not all women are wives. With this realization, Mr. Lawani feels the need for deeper apologies. “My deepest apologies, Prof. I’m so sorry.”

They are at the carpark now and one of the VC’s entourage had opened the door to the owner’s seat.

Prof Akpa puts one leg in the car and is about to put the second when he turns,

“You know what I read online earlier today?” A wicked smile brightens his face and that scares Mr. Lawani so much so that he begins nodding his head like a starving agama lizard.

“Someone complained that those who carry bottled water in their hands around are claiming to be very rich. But you know someone else’s answer to her that struck me?”

“No sir.” Mr. Lawani finally finds his voice.

“The other person told her that even if all a person does is to drink water and mind his/her business, people still talk.” Prof chuckles louder this time for a long while before looking back at Mr. Lawani. “You don’t know what that means, do you?”

Mr. Lawani is about to say yes or nod his head or respond in any other way possible, but the professor continues immediately. “You should learn to mind your business; no matter what people say.” He says coldly on a dismissive note and sits in while his policeman closes the door firmly after that.

Mr. Lawani stands transfixed as the hummer jeep drives past his face in such a hurry-like manner as the words of the prof.

 

****

 

Chief Boniface stiffens his face. The staff in his hand feels like so much load that he leaves it hanging down the side of the chair he’s sitting on.

“It’s not a good step. I don’t think it is.”

The room must have been dedicated to purchases of beautiful things with walls looking all burnt browns and yellows. The furniture is a lot to talk about and there’s a table in easy reach of every seat. However, the walls are more photographs than paint. Everyone of a hero from some time in history. Chief Boniface is a known patriot of the great nation Nigeria and one would readily agree to that judging from the various photos of heroes past lining the entirety of his wall.

An elderly man with full grey hair on the couch opposite Chief Boniface’s sits up on his own seat. “You are never wrong, Boni. That decision cannot be wrong.”

“But we don’t have time…”

The elderly man leans on his staff, assuming a suitable posture for deep thoughts.

“Onyeubiam adi ghi aza ‘omeokachie’. Mbanu!” He wriggles his head in such a way one would think it’d pull off. He readjusts on his seat, sounding provoked. “An indigent does not take the title of Omeokachie. Never.” He interprets the Igbo proverb in English. “Boni, you are Omeokachie. That title cannot be for anyone else. You are one who completes whatever you put your hands to.”

Chief Boniface could feel his head expand so much so that the red cap on his head suddenly feels tighter. He sits up and clears his throat. His voice is so deep and thick; even fellow rich folks will agree its laden with much more money.

“You have spoken well, Nna. Indeed, you have.” He clears his throat a second time. “Our elders always say that, ‘tell a child to wash his body, he washes his stomach’. I realize in my bid to find a solution, I made a more grievous mistake. A more grievous one, Nna.”

The elderly man smiles boisterously as Chief Boniface’s face suddenly turns morose. “Look, Nwam, a master chef is not always blessed with a good harvest of okra.”

Chief Boniface rolls his face. That’s his issues with elders – one thing and they always have a way of inputting a proverb to confuse someone and complicate matters the more. “So what do I do now? What can…”

A strange and satisfied giggle from the elderly man shuts him up and he looks on helplessly, racking his head to see which part of his helplessness is so funny.

“Ewu nwuru n’oba ji abughi agu gburu ya.” The former springs up. “A goat that dies in a barn was never killed by hunger.”

Chief Boniface squeezes his forehead. “How do you mean, Nna?” He voices out his frustration before he could stop himself.

 

To be continued…

Who else think that hell is about to be let loosed? Be praying for Noma o, cos I am. Lol. Have a great week from tomorrow.

Kindly leave a comment and share…

 

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About Grace Ochigbo

Grace Ochigbo
Grace Ochigbo is a Christian, storyteller, inspirational speaker and the Founder of Gemstone Sickle Cell Aid Team, a non-profit organizations working to end Sickle Cell Disease.

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