NEVER WALK ALONE - Episode 1

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - show off his deft ball-juggling abilities, the game he loved very dearly - football, the sun illuminated her beautiful face, slices of bread with yummy flaps of fried egg, elementary school, pupils, Holy Rosary College, a prestigious secondary school in Enugu, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital.

                                    
She watched him from a distance as he straddled the lines. Forlornly, he stood by the sidelines and watched other boys play the game he loved very dearly - football. He was new to the school, having just transferred from another elementary school, so he was still struggling to make new friends. He loved football passionately and played the game very well too, but no one had agreed to give him a chance to show off his deft ball-juggling abilities. “You can’t play with us because our teams are already full,” Onwuchekwa, the oldest of the boys told him. He had heard the same words for two weeks in row. He hated Onwuchekwa. He even saw him in his dreams, and each time he chased after him with a big machete.

In class, he wished he could beat Onwuchekwa up. He paced the sidelines in utter frustration, frowning intensely. He knew he was much better than most boys on the field, and that irked him even more. “Why are you not playing with them,” a gentle, soft-spoken voice asked from behind him. Her voice was like angelic music to his ears. When he turned, her beautiful face smiled at him reassuringly. “Because that bully, Onwuchekwa thinks I am not good enough to play with them; simply because he has not seen me play,” Udodi answered. He had seen her several times in class but he hardly knew her name. The glaze of the sun illuminated her beautiful face as she stood with one hand on her hip. “Do you want to share my lunch with me then?” she asked audaciously. “Yes, thanks,” Udodi agreed. He was not about to pass up lunch; at least something to enjoy on another sunny afternoon when he had been cast aside by the boys.

“So, what is your name?” he asked her as they settled under a ‘Dogonyaro’ tree in front of their classroom. “Amaka,” she replied. She opened the wrap she had been holding in her hand, and inside were slices of bread with yummy flaps of fried egg in-between. She split it in half and passed one to Udodi. He was thoroughly delighted about the windfall. Suddenly, he forgot the frustration of being left out of the football match. He could not recall the last time they had egg and bread in his family. He devoured the bread and egg ravenously. “Where do you live?” Amaka asked. “Costain quarters, near Ogui Road,” he answered. “What about you?” “We live at Nanka Street in New Haven.” “I saw your parents pick you up the other day,” Udodi said. “Yes, they often pick me up.” “Which school did you transfer from,” Amaka asked him. “I used to be in this school actually, but I spent last year in Imo State. After Christmas the previous year, my parents suggested we remain in our village, so we did. I did not like the school there, and my brothers and sisters hated it too, so we had to transfer back here after one year.” “I used to be at New Haven Primary School, but the headmistress here is a friend of my parents’. She convinced them to transfer me to this school. “You transferred not long ago too?” “Yes,” answered Amaka. “It took me a while to make new friends. Don’t worry, you’ll soon get to play with them,” Amaka encouraged him.

Their chatter was ended by the ringing of the bell signaling the end of the break period. “Thanks for sharing your lunch with me.” “No problem. I will bring some more tomorrow. Would like to share with me?” This is looking good! Udodi thought. “Yes,” he replied exuberantly. Their friendship blossomed from then on. Soon, the entire class began to call Amaka Udodi’s wife. “Why don’t you go and spend time with your wife than play football with us?” Some of their classmates would tease Udodi. “I know you like her! When will you two get marry?” others would ask jokingly. Amaka was larger than life. She was not the type to shrink from a fight. “So what?” she would shoot back at the teasers. “Yes, I am Udodi’s wife. I am sure you would love to have a wife, but no girl wants you anyway.” Her caustic replies often engendered a loud laughter in class.

Udodi was more of the quiet type, who would smile and ignore the jesters. They were in elementary five and coincidentally, they happened to be in the same class in elementary six. Love was certainly not in their young dictionary at the time, but they both enjoyed playing together. Udodi looked forward to seeing her and so did she. She continued to bring lunch for both of them. During mango season, in attempt to pay her back, at least somehow, Udodi would inundate her with mangos. They had several mango trees in their compound and he was always excited to pluck some for her. He would rinse the mangos and then rinse them again. After all, they were for Amaka, so they needed to look their best. Amaka was pleased each time he brought her those mangoes, which appeared to taste better, because they were from Udodi.


On the last day of elementary school, pupils were exhilarated at the prospect of going to secondary school. There was jubilation in the air, particularly by elementary six pupils. Udodi was pleased to be going to secondary school, but he wondered what it would feel like not to see Amaka every day. He woke up that day feeling sad. He tried to cheer himself up, but the thought of Amaka not hanging out with him at break time left a sad chasm in is heart. “So, Udo, will I get to see you again?” she asked him towards the end of the day. “Yes,” he answered not knowing how. “But how?” she queried.

 He flickered through his mind for an answer, but nothing jumped at him. A massive wave of emptiness and sadness was all he could find in his mind. “Why don’t you come with us in my father’s car to our house, that way you know where I live? I will ask my father to drop you off. I will come with him, so I know where you live too.” “What a brilliant idea,” said Udodi. After collecting their report cards for the last time in elementary school, pupils hugged and sang and joked as they dispersed. “I wonder how this husband and wife will get to see each other again,” Onwuchekwa teased them as they stood in front of the school gate waiting for Amaka’s father. “O gbasaro gi (None of your business),” Amaka replied him sharply. Shortly afterwards, Amaka’s father pulled up by the gate. Amaka hopped into the car and sold the idea to him. She was daddy’s girl, so her father was pleased to take her daughter’s best friend home with them and back to Udodi’s house. “So, Udodi you are Amaka’s best friend?” he asked him during the short drive. “Yes sir.” “Where are you from?” “Owerri, in Imo State.” “Where does your father work?” “The Nigerian Railway Corporation, sir.” Amaka tells me you took the first position in your class.” “Yes sir.” “Good! Keep that up.” “Thank you sir.” He shivered a little under the watchful influence of the car air conditioner that hummed and shunted as they drove to Amaka’s house.


Amaka went off to Holy Rosary College, a prestigious secondary school in Enugu, while Udodi was admitted into College of Immaculate Conception Enugu, a premier all-boys secondary school. Within the first year of secondary school, they would visit each other every now and again, and as before, they enjoyed being together. About a year and half into secondary school, Amaka’s father who worked for the then Anambra State government left Enugu for Awka following the creation of the new Anambra and Enugu states out of the older Anambra. As a result, his family including Amaka moved with him. Udodi had seen Amaka a few days before they left for Awka. From then on, they did not see each other. Udodi missed her. By now, he was becoming aware of love, and he knew he felt something strong for the pretty girl who dazzled her way into his heart with an act of kindness back in elementary school. He wondered what she looked like as the years went by, and hoped that somehow, he would run into her again…someday. He headed off to the University of Jos after secondary school to study Mechanical Engineering. Every now and again, he would think of her. Somehow, he felt nothing for any other girl, but fate continued to deny him the much-craved opportunity to meet her again.

Each time he saw any girl that looked remotely like her, he would run after them, and always, he was disappointed. Once, he saw a girl in Port Harcourt that bore striking resemblance to Amaka. It was in a bank. He walked up to her, tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention. When she turned, she turned out not to be Amaka, and the girl I question was utterly rude to him. “Don’t you dare touch me again!” she yelled caustically at him leaving him embarrassed. He apologized profusely before leaving as soon as the watching eyes looked away. Soon, he began to give up hope. As a result, he tried to take interest in another girl at University.

They went out on dates a few dates. While he was at it, he knew the feeling was not really there, but he persisted knowing that he would have to move on as he may never find Amaka again. He and Judith dated for a year, albeit it a tepid relationship. Udodi had grown into a passionate and exuberant young man, but much as he tried, he never quite felt as connected to Judith as he was to Amaka. One afternoon while he was visiting his parents in Enugu, he joined his mom on a hospital visitation with her church group. They visited patients in various wards at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital. He tagged along with his mom and her church colleagues as they went from unit to unit. In the emergency ward, he sighted someone on a wheelchair. She looked very familiar. He went closer, and the girl happened to look in his direction. It was as if time stopped. Udodi was certain that his heart stopped beating for a moment. Their eyes were locked in a moment that seemed to last for eternity. They both looked intently at each other. He had no doubt it was her. She smiled, revealing the beautiful dimples that used to leave him giddy each time Amaka smiled at him in elementary school. She too recognized him immediately.

He walked slowly towards her. “Amaka Uzonna!”  he yelled. “Udodi Ibekwe!” She replied with a loud scream. The nurses and other patients stared at them. Impulsively, he bent over and wrapped his arms around her, and she reciprocated passionately. They both closed their eyes and held each other for a good ten minutes. They would release each other for a few seconds, look into each other’s face and fall back into each other’s arms. He smelt the fragrance of her hair. Nothing had changed. Her tender touch sent his heart into motion. She had grown even more beautiful over the years. They did not want to let go of each other.

 “I can’t believe I finally found you. I have been searching for you all these years.” “Me too,” she replied. “I have been to where you used to live here in Enugu and I was told your family moved somewhere else years back. For some reason, I could never find anyone who could take me to your new address,” Amaka explained. “You went to where we used to live? I wish I knew. Some people there know where we live now.” “So I was told, but each time I was there, the ones who do know where you live now were never home.” “It does not matter anymore. I finally found you. We found each other.” Udodi said excitedly. Udodi’s mother was surprised, plentifully. She had never seen her son hold any girl like that. She was a little uncomfortable being a devout, conservative born-again Christian. She felt that the contact between them was far too close, so she left her group to stay behind in an attempt to unravel the identity of the mystery girl.

STORY CONTINUES...  CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 2

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: NEVER WALK ALONE - Episode 1
NEVER WALK ALONE - Episode 1
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - show off his deft ball-juggling abilities, the game he loved very dearly - football, the sun illuminated her beautiful face, slices of bread with yummy flaps of fried egg, elementary school, pupils, Holy Rosary College, a prestigious secondary school in Enugu, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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