DEEP FATHERLY LOVE - Episode 1

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - UNN to study Law, Mechanical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, University studying Law and Banking, money.


“We passed Papa!” the twins announced exuberantly. “Passed what?” he asked through a haze of bewilderment. He had dozed off while watching the evening news. He brushed his hands across his eyes to wipe off remaining vestiges of sleep. “JAMB result is out Papa, and we both passed,” they echoed, still bristling with raw, undiluted elation. “I will be going to UNN to study Law Papa,” Chiasoka, the older of the twins announced. He was fifteen minutes older than his twin brother, Chidiuto. “And I will be studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt,” Chidiuto added before their father, Udenna could respond to Chiasoka.

Udenna leaped to his feet and hugged them with the exuberance of a proud father. He was so overjoyed that he hardly knew how to respond. He let go of them momentarily, walked a distance to the door and returned towards them. He wrapped his arms around them with gusto and jumped up and down. He released them again and began to dance. “Ijaya mma, ijaya!!” He bellowed in their native dialect. He twisted his waste in an absolute sync with the tunes he sang, and waltzed from the front door to the back one, which led to the bedroom.

Umu oma (good children), I am so proud of you!” he declared ecstatically. “Thank you Papa,” they echoed. The Udenna household celebrated all night as they sat in their tiny living room and recounted the news over and over again. It was the twins’ second attempt, and this time, they did extremely well. Their younger brothers Uche and Ebube, and their sisters Ozioma, Ugonma and Chioma were sprawled on bare floor along with Chiasoka and Chidiuto. Their parents occupied the only couches in their living room. The paint on the walls was peeling off, and each couch had been reduced almost to bare spring. The foam on each of them had shrunk so much that you could feel the jagged metal springs savagely massaging your buttocks unpleasantly while sitting on either of them. Their tiny television was off as they chatted away. An old radio sat in the corner, beside which an equally old, haggard standing fan with a broken neck stood. The twins who were the next in line to go off to University had delivered the goods. Their two older brothers, Jideofor and Eloka were already at University studying Law and Banking, respectively.

When the celebrations finally died down, the children retired to bed and Udenna and his wife, Ezinwanyi remained in the living room. There was a single bedroom with two beds, spare mattresses, and mats in their apartment. Everyone knew their position, and each night, the entire household (with the exception of the two oldest boys who were at University) squeezed into the bedroom and living room for a night’s sleep. “What are we going to do,” Ezinwanyi asked Udenna. He stared at her without uttering a word for a while. He had been trying to celebrate with his children, but deep down inside, he was terribly troubled. Every square inch of his heart was mercilessly haunted by the looming extra cost of University education for two more sons. His paltry salary had already been squeezed to the limits by having two sons at University. The thought of two more was enormously frightening.

“I don’t know, my dear wife, but we cannot deny them such glorious opportunity. How do you tell two bright boys that after passing with flying colors, they should sit at home or go learn a trade? That will kill me,” Udenna answered solemnly. He had managed to hide his worries from his children, but not from his wife. She looked on him with pity. She knew he would soon be worrying a lot. They managed to go to bed with the hope that things would somehow work out. As the weeks flew by, Udenna began to search for money to send his boys to school. Their salaries at work had not been paid in four months, which left the outlook of things in his household rather bleak. He rummaged through his mind daily in desperate search of help. He thought of his brother in-law whom he had helped set up a business years ago. He barely saw him of late, but he knew he was doing well. One evening after work, he walked across town to his house. He could not afford to take a bus. That was an extremely expensive luxury beyond his reach. His salary account read zero the last time he checked, while he had less than one hundred Naira in his pocket. That would surely fetch some extra food for his family, so he was not about to give any part of it away by boarding a bus.

He walked for two hours to his brother in-law, James’ house. He saw his car downstairs. He was pleased that James was at home. His walk would not be in vain. Hopefully, he would drop him off at home, saving him the laborious walk back. He climbed the stairs and rammed gently on the door. One of James’ house helps answered the door. “How are you? Please remind me your name,” Udenna requested.  “Michael,” answered the house help. “Is your master at home?” “No sir.” “Really? But I saw his car downstairs.” “Yes, he left in a friend’s car soon after he had returned from the shop sir.” “I see. In that case, he couldn’t have gone so far. I will stay and wait for him then,” Udenna suggested.

Fear appeared to creep into Michael’s face. He was not expecting that. “No sir, I am not allowed to let anyone in when Oga is not around,” he resisted. He seemed frightened as he spoke. It was obvious a part of him felt very terrible at not letting Udenna in. “Your Oga is my relative. You have seen me here before, haven’t you?” “Yes, I have, but sir….” He stammered. “I am…I am not allowed to let anyone in when Oga is not here.” “I see. In that case, could you please tell him when he returns that Udenna, the husband of his mother’s sister's daughter was here.” “I will sir.” “Okay, you take care.” “Bye bye sir.” 

Udenna trudged down the stairs. He was visibly deflated. His long walk had yielded no dividends. Fatigue taunted him as he walked sluggishly out of James’ compound. He headed up the street and disappeared into the darkness of the night.  “Is he gone?” James asked Michael. “Yes Oga, he is gone.” “Good. I knew he was here to borrow money from me again. How many times will I have to lend him money,” James recounted rhetorically. He had a bottle of big stout in his hand and behind him was one of his many girlfriends. She stroked his back as he downed the beer. He sipped the last drop of stout off the bottle, handed the bottle to Michael and headed downstairs with his girlfriend. He had seen Udenna through his front window as he walked past his car and quickly instructed his house help not to let him in, while feeding him the lie that he was not at home.

He entered his car with his girlfriend, revved up the engine and careened into the street. There was quite some traffic up his street, so he was forced to roll at a pace that he found rather agonizing. They were heading to a nightclub and he did not want to miss any action. Udenna peered intently from his spot. He sensed that Michael had been told to inform him that James was not home, so he hung around in an effort to confirm his hunch. The truth was painful. He had seen James emerge with his girlfriend under the illumination of the street lights. He watched them enter his car and roll up the street, smiling gleefully at each other.

Daggers of sadness permeated his poor heart. He recalled when James was left in the village with nothing to do. He would have ended up as a palm wine tapper in the village but he broke all protocols to bring him to the city. He had him learn a trade with a friend of his, and when things turned sour between them, he stepped in to settle the matter. As he watched him drive by, he could not fight back the pains that annexed his heart. Slowly, he dragged his tired legs along as he sought his way home. The walk home lasted over two hours. He stopped by a nearby market and picked up a few items to make sure there was some sort of food on the table for his family that night. As he lay in bed later at night, tears emanated from his eyes. He faced the opposite direction to keep his wife from seeing his pains. He had managed to stave off hunger in his household for the night, but for how long? He wondered. The hefty cost of sending his boys to school weighed heavily on his mind. He knew it was only a matter of time before Jideofor and Eloka returned home asking for pocket money. His blood pressure was hitting the roof. Somehow, he managed to avoid a full blown cardiac condition.

After work next day, he walked straight to a friend’s house. His friend, Isaac was a substantially wealthy contractor. He had been helpful in the past. “I am sorry to bug you again my friend. Please bear with me,” he pleaded fervently with him. “I will pay you back as always as soon as we receive our salaries. We have not been paid in four months and I need to feed my children. Besides, I have two more children who will be going to University in the next few months. Please, could you offer me a loan of 15,000 Naira? I will pay you back over a few installments on getting my salaries.” This was a huge chunk at the time. Isaac considered his friends request. He was a kind man, and he knew his friend Udenna was just as kind. He knew that Udenna would do the same for him if their situations were reversed.

“Honey, please can I show you something,” Isaac’s wife, Egoyibo called at him from the adjoining bedroom. “I will be right back,” Isaac promised Udenna as he headed for the bedroom. Egoyibo had been listening to her husband’s discussion with Udenna. As soon as she knew he was the one at the door, she sensed he had come to borrow from them again. “You are not thinking of giving him that amount of money, are you?” “Egoyibo, please let’s not fight over this anymore. The man is in need. Back when I was starting off in life, he was one of the few people that helped me. I feel I owe him a lot now that he has fallen on hard times. I am sure he will pay back eventually.” Eventually? Perhaps when we are all dead? Are you out of your mind?

STORY CONTINUES...
               CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 2

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: DEEP FATHERLY LOVE - Episode 1
DEEP FATHERLY LOVE - Episode 1
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - UNN to study Law, Mechanical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, University studying Law and Banking, money.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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