The Blind Also Cry

In January 2015, Emmanuel said this is my year. I am getting married this year. 2015 came and passed, he didn’t get married. When 2015 closed its last page and turned a fresh leave for 2016, he wrote a note which he pinned on his bedside, “I am getting married this year”.

There were 52 Saturdays in 2016. Every single one of them came and expired, Emmanuel didn’t get married.

On the first Sunday in 2017, the pastor preached about violent seeds that open doors. Emmanuel sowed two months of his salary to the Lord. He went home and wrote, “I am getting married this 2017.” Emmanuel was 33 years old.

Now, Emmanuel had a girlfriend he had been dating since 2014 but she was not the kind of woman he would like to get married to. She was a pretty woman who possessed weight were most men want their women to have weight, and she was a great cook. But he never saw her as his wife. There was this thing about her he couldn’t just place a finger on, but it was there, strongly, keeping him away from proposing to her. Her name was Favour and she was 28 years old.

“We need to see my people,” Favour would say.

“Not now, baby. Not now.”

Emmanuel was searching for a wife elsewhere. In 2015, he met Uju at Polo Park. He was coming out of First Bank and heading to his car when he saw her, standing in a small queue before the ATM. He stopped and his heart began to hammer on his chess. She was a slim, comely woman with innocent eyes and lips that promised heaven.

He took a step forward. He said hi.

She looked at him. Her eyes narrowed. “Hi.”

“My name is Emmanuel, you look familiar.”

Uju had heard this line a score of times; she smiled. You can do better bro.

He mistook her smile as encouragement and he relaxed a little. “I am a fashion designer but today I want to be your driver. I can take you home when you are done.”

He didn’t take her home. He took her inside and shopped for her in Shoprite. It was February and God was answering his prayer. We should get married by August, he thought. By the time he saw Uju’s wedding IV as her WhatsApp DP, he had invested his soul in the relationship. He wept.

In 2016, he met Amara. He met her at a traditional marriage he attended in Agbani. She was one of the aso ebi girls, a small piece of chocolate awesomeness, he later wrote about her in his diary. When he had the chance to speak to her, he said, “I am not here to joke. I want to make you my wife.”

She laughed, revealing a beautiful dentition. “My bride price is a million naira o.”

He laughed. “Chicken change.”

It turned out that Amara was a student at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus and possessed the taste of a celebrity. He bought her a washing machine, a microwave, an Apple tablet, an LG plasma TV, a fridge, countless designer wears and shoes, paid for her apartment in New Haven which was a big deal in 2015 (and today). She wasn’t joking when she said her bride price was a million naira. What he didn’t know was that she was the one, not her Umunna, who would collect the dowry.

One day in July 2016, Emmanuel lied to Favour his main babe who was not a marriage material that he had a business in Aba that would keep her there the whole weekend. He planned to spend the weekend with his side chick who was the wife material.

He caught Amara in bed with another man. Not really a man, a boy of 22 or 23, an ugly piece of shit of a boy. But that his woman was cheating on him with a boy ten years younger than him and two or three years younger than Amara, an Efulefu, wasn’t the most painful part: The fact that was moaning with joy which she never did when they made love broke his heart.

Emmanuel rushed to the TV, unhooked it from the wall and snatched it on the wall. He grabbed the microwave and smashed it on the wall. He grabbed the fridge, then stopped. He may not be able to carry the fridge or destroying it wasn’t the best punishment, we will never know. He went to her socket area, unplugged her tablet and took it away, her sim card and all.

No, he couldn’t go home. He was in Aba for a business, remember. He went to a hotel. It was in the hotel that he took his time to calculate everything he had spent on the female dog. 834,000 naira and he wept.

After his violent seed offering, Emmanuel became wiser. No more spending on women. In March 2017, he met Lola, a youth corps member at a bus stop in Zik Avenue. He was going to board a keke to his home in Trans Ekulu, his car being on sabbatical, when he saw the beads of sweat on the lady’s forehead and felt compassion for her. “Corper, where are you going to?”

“Holy Ghost.”

“Hop in.”

On their first date, they drank Fanta and Sprite with average-tasting meat pie at the mall. Emmanuel was proud of his stance, no more spending on a woman. It took him five months of dating Lola to discover that she was not a serious human being. You have to be a serious human being before you become a serious lover, he wrote on Facebook. They would have dates and Lola would not answer his calls and end up missing the date. When he finally got to speak to her she would say she forgot about the date and her phone was on silent.

He usually saw her in the company of young men.

“This is Tayo, my cousin. His mother is my father’s second cousin.”

“Meet Jide. His father is my mother’s uncle.”

“This is John, he is my father’s godson and like my twin brother.”

“It is like all Yoruba people are related to each other,” Emmanuel complained to his friend, Levi.

“Yes, they all came from Oduduwa—”

“Shut up.”

Unrequited love will eventually die. It is like trying to start a generator without the plug. Only one thing is certain: you will give up. It is a matter of when. Emmanuel gave up.

In September 2017, Emmanuel drove Favour, his girlfriend to the mall.

“You are going to shop for me?” she asked.

“Wait and see.”

On the space around the sit-out, the Cold Stone ice cream spot, and the elevator, Emmanuel stopped walking. He fetched something from his pocket, turned to Favour, and went down on one knee; he said: “Baby, I have been a fool these past three years. But I am here, a prodigal lover asking, would you be kind enough to be my wife.”

Favour screamed, “Oh baby!”

His hands were shaking when he slipped the ring in her finger. She hugged him and he buried his head in her bosom and wept.

Tweets to @Oke4chukwu

Follow my teaching days series here

Memories of a Young Man as a Teacher (1)

After abandoning this site for some time, for nearly a year and only epileptically present for nearly three years now, I am coming back with two feet. I am returning with a series called Nwa Teacher. This is the story of my teaching experience for 9 months in Nnewi, Anambra State in 2015/2016.

I will like to make the following points.

The name of the school has been changed. Names of true characters are not true. Some characters have been created to buttress some points. Some characters have been merged. Majority of the scenarios in the story are true but most times, they are presented in dramatic forms. Sometimes, I will add a pinch of salt.

For now, I intend to publish the episodes every week, preferably Mondays. Till the end of the story, or the end of Muse or the end of the world that COVID-19 has initiated. Let’s do this.

Episode One

Whenever people asked me why I was teaching, during my teaching days, I would say I was doing it for my state. “I have served Nigeria for one year. Time to serve Anambra.” But it was a lie. No, it is not an outright lie; it is just not the whole truth. The first leg of the truth is that I was afraid. I was afraid of Lagos which was where I had planned to move to and look for work after service. I was afraid of waking up by 4am in the mainland to board a bus for work on the island, finish work by 5pm then spend hours on traffic and finally return home by 11pm. Which is not even final because I have to deal with preparing what to eat that late. Repeat the next day.

This was how I imagined life as an employee in Lagos. My NYSC days were breathtakingly stressful. I was fresh from serving in the infamous Cemetery Lodge; I saw fire there. I wasn’t looking forward to coming close to the kitchen. And Lagos is a hot kitchen. I decided to just sit home in the village with my parents. And I sat home.

I became tired of sitting home and I didn’t want to give my parents the impression that I was a lazy jerk who was afraid of working, so I decided to become a teacher. By becoming a teacher I would no longer have the tag of the devil’s workshop but I would also not be on the burning circus of Lagos. I would use my teaching period to buy time.

I would kill two birds with one bright idea.

There are three principal cities in Anambra, Onitsha, Awka, and Nnewi. I selected Nnewi because that was the closest one to me. Also because I have an aunt in Awka and a family friend in Onitsha. I didn’t want to stay with anyone for one day. I even had this wishful thought that I could go to work in Nnewi from my village of Ogbunka every day thereby saving feeding and rent. Hehe.

The fact that there is a premier league club in Nnewi was an added merit. Their coach then was Super Eagles legend Daniel Amokachi and I couldn’t wait to spend my weekend in the stands. That was 2015, I was making an important decision because of local football. I usually have never taken life too seriously. And I may never.

I wrote three application letters: to Okongwu Grammar School, to Maria Regina Model Comprehensive Secondary School, and to Mount Sinai International School. I gave the first letter to the gateman at Maria Regina, the second letter to the principal’s secretary in Okongwu; when the bike stopped me at the gate of Mount Sinai International School, I know instantly that this would be where I work.

I opened the unmanned gate.

“Come up here,” a voice called. I looked up at a big woman. She owned the school and you can tell this just by the way she stood on the balcony, a boss. I began to climb the staircase. At the first landing, I nearly pumped into a guy.

“Wait,” he said, took an imaginary step backward, and tried to remember my face. “You were in Sokoto Camp right?”

God forbid, not me. But I didn’t say this aloud. “Mehn, Sokoto Camp was a cooking stove,” I said. Too early in the day for being correct.

“My brother,” he exclaimed. “I later redeployed to Edo.”

“I redeployed to Osun,” I said. I didn’t. I camped in Osun, served in Osun, fell in love in Osun, was thrown out of the window of love there, broke my neck, and here I was in Nnewi trying to make sense out of life, trying to keep broken body and soldered soul together.

He looked at the brown envelope in my hand. “Biology?”

“No. English.” Growing up, everyone in the neighborhood said I would make a great lawyer and expected me to study law because I could argue for the whole street, for the next three streets, for the whole town even. But on the day I filled my JAMB form, my hand was firm. First Choice: English Literature, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Second Choice: English and Literary Studies, University of Abuja. Six years later, someone thought Biology was my field. I smiled.

“I am Hosea,” he said, “Good luck.” He made way for me. I thanked and passed.

The proprietress’ office was not an office. It was a library but it wasn’t a model library. It was not well-lit and there were many empty shelves and not up to ten desks in all.

“Good afternoon, madam.”

“Sit down, my son.”

I sat down to what was my first interview as a graduate. This was not how I envisioned it. I saw my first interview before a panel of four or five executives behind a rich mahogany desk in a conference room with the AC freezing every limb in sight. The reality was an interview in a poorly-lit library.

Reality 1, Kingsley Okechukwu 0.

And the match has not even begun. It would be a long match and it would be brutal.

To be continued.

Read episode two here