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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - tears, University, village, kitchen, plots of land, sold those lands.

Udenna knew what was going on. A pang of sorrow beset him as he waited quietly in the well-furnished living room. It was quite some time before Isaac finally reappeared. He tried to wear a smile on his face, but Udenna could see through the cracks across his plastic smile. “Ude my friend, I would really like to help you, but things have not been going to plan lately. I have yet to receive payment for most of my recent jobs, so I hate to inform you that I can’t help right now. I am very sorry, especially given that your children’s education is on the line. I will let you know soon enough if things improve,” he lied. His wife had threatened fire and brimstone, and he had caved in reluctantly.  “I know you’d help if you could my friend,” Udenna replied. He had accepted the situation before Isaac returned. The longer he took, the more assured Udenna became that Isaac’s wife would twist things to his disfavor.

He tried to hide his pains from his wife and children, but the more he tried to look happy, the sadder he looked. He would nibble at his measly meals so the children would have enough to eat. “Eat before you go down with an illness,” Ezinwanyi warned him repeatedly. Soon, it was time for Chiasoka and Chidiuto to go off to university. Coincidentally, Jideofor and Eloka returned home about the same time. He tried a few more relatives and friends but no one, even those who were clearly financially well off were willing to help. One evening, Udenna sat in front of his apartment. He looked across to the corn fields on the river banks, and wondered what next he could possibly do. Life seemed meaningless. He ran through his memory in search of who else to run to for help, but he came up empty.

Tears trickled down his eyes as he gazed at the lush green fields. He was in complete oblivion; a rather painful one. He tried abortively to stave off the tears, but he failed terribly. Like a frenzied flood crashing through a dammed river, more tears zigzagged down his face. He saw the shadow of someone behind him and turned sharply. He tried to wipe his tears, but he was so soaked that he could not effectively dry his face with a few wipes. “What are you doing here?” he asked Chidiuto who had noticed the tears. Udenna continued to wipe his face. Chidiuto had hardly ever seen his father cry, so seeing that much tear on his face left him is utter shock.  “Did someone die Papa?” “No my son, but…” Udenna tried to think of what to tell him but he was far too bemused and frustrated to come up with a rational answer.

“Something is bothering your father, but it will be alright,” he managed to say to him. “You have been worried lately Dad. Is it about our University cost?” “Oh, no it is not that,” he lied but Chidiuto was almost certain that was the reason. He had overheard his Dad and Mom discussing the matter some days earlier. “Then what is it Dad?” he persisted. He moved closer and sat on the bench beside his Dad. Most of his tears had faded by now. “If two of us will be too much burden, I don’t mind staying back for one year so that Chiasoka can go to University this year,” he offered in a frantic attempt to relieve some of the stress on his Dad. “You are twins. It will hurt me so bad to have you stay at home while your twin brother goes off to school this year.” “But at least it will reduce the burden on you and Mom.” “What if you don’t pass well enough to go next year?” “Then I will try again.”

“That would be cruel my child. I hate to say it, but things have been awfully hard. I don’t know what else to do. Your older brothers are home and you two will need a huge amount of money to be able to start school. I have no idea what to do.” “I have seen the stress on your face lately Dad. I know you have not received your salary for quite a while. I am sorry that we are putting you through a lot of stress.” “Don’t say that my child. It is my joy and responsibility to cater for you all. If the government would pay us promptly, it would not be so bad.” “So let me stay back to ease the stress on you Dad. I love you so much. I hate to see you go through so much stress for us.” Udenna looked at him. A layer of mist appeared over his eyes. He was touched by his son’s love for him, yet broken by their situation. He wrapped his arms around him as the mist around his eyes enlarged into tiny balls, and then bigger ones.

Again, he wiped his eyes and pulled himself together. Chidiuto’s face was covered in dense tears. “Stop crying my son,” Udenna encouraged him. “I will do all I can to make sure that neither of you have to lose a year,” he added with renewed inspiration. The realization that his son was willing to make such sacrifice for him and the family rekindled some fire and faith in him. “What will you do Dad?” Chidiuto asked. Udenna considered his question. “Why don’t you sell some of our lands in the village?” he asked in succession. “I don’t want to do that my son. It is for you and your brothers. I would not want to put you in a tight situation in the future by selling our lands.” “One or two might help Dad. That would solve the immediate need, and by God’s grace, someday we might buy some back or even buy better and bigger ones.”

Again, Udenna regarded his twenty-year-old son. He was deeply touched by his wisdom. He reached out and placed his hand on his shoulder. “God bless you my child,” he said quietly. “And you too Dad.” Udenna found his way to the village the next weekend. He sold off two of their lands and sent his sons to school. He had to sell more over the years to make sure they all graduated.

He sat under a pear tree in his compound in the village. Grey hairs had built camp on his head, but his energy even in retirement was still high. He was full of life, humor and warmth. He was waiting for his lunch, as Ezinwanyi worked her magic in the kitchen. Udenna looked around his compound. He stared specifically at the thatched fence made from palm fronds around his house. He wished they were gone; replaced by proper fence made from cement blocks. Then, a car stopped outside the compound, interrupting his thoughts. He wondered who it was. “Chukwuma!” he yelled, calling at their house help.

His children had gotten help for him and his wife since moving to the village following retirement. “Yes Papa,” Chukwuma who was helping Ezinwanyi in the kitchen replied. “Come and get the gate please. The gate was a makeshift one constructed with sheets of old zinc and plank. Before Chukwuma could get to the gate, it flung open. It was Chiasoka. He held the gate open and a Toyota Camry drove into the compound. Beside it was a Honda Civic. Chidiuto, Eloka, Jideofor, Uche, Ebube, Ozioma, Ugonma and Chioma emerged from the vehicles. “Umu m! (My children!),” Udenna shouted. He was clearly and delightfully surprised. He was not expecting them. “Come here Ezinwanyi,” he shouted. Ezinwanyi ran from the kitchen to welcome them home. “This one all of you returned at the same time, I hope all is well?” she inquired. “All is well Mama. We wanted to surprise you and Papa,” Chidiuto answered her. After they had eaten lunch and chatted about life in the city, they took their parents for a walk.

“This land is now yours. I mean our family’s again,” Jideofor announced when they reached one of the plots of lands that Udenna had sold to send them to school. Udenna and Ezinwanyi stared at them. They were both confused, pleasantly though. “Really?” “Yes Papa. We bought it back from the Okafors.” The same thing happened as they passed through 5 other plots of land their father had sold previously. “Chidiuto told us all about his discussion with you years ago. We understand how difficult it was for you to sell these lands, because you wanted to keep them for us. We are very grateful for all you and Mom did for us and we all got together to buy these lands back at all cost as gift to you and Mama on your birthday, but largely in honor of your love for us all. We will be renovating the house and erecting a proper fence around it from next week. Thanks, for being the father we all love to emulate,” Jideofor spoke on behalf of himself and his siblings.

“Today there are tears in my eyes as they were on that day many years ago, but these are good tears my children. I am awed by your wisdom and love. You have all made my day. I am so proud of you all. If I could have sold myself to take care of you all and your Mom, I would have done it. Sometimes, I wondered if I was doing the right thing, but a man’s love for his family overrides everything else. Apart from what you have all done today, who you have all become gives me the greatest joy. I am glad I sold those lands that we may all get here today. Thanks for loving me and your mother and I as we have loved you all,” Udenna thanked them profusely.

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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