Memories of a Young Man as a Teacher (11)

Sorry for the delay in posting this. I am running an online course plus a sea of other commitments. Please, let’s make this series a little flexible from Monday to Wednesday. But, you ask, why can’t I write five or more episodes in a stretch. The answer is simple, village people.

Here is the previous episode you missed because I didn’t share it on Social Media.

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I didn’t give Joy’s text message a second thought. At this time, I was angry with her. She didn’t even give me the regular “I am not ready” or “I don’t think it would work, it is me not you” etc.; she didn’t even want to buy time in order to give me a soft rejection. I hissed and put the phone away. She had helped me make a choice and it is Oby. Obioma hasn’t said yes but it is okay by me. When a lady says she would think about it, assume it is a yes and go ahead to love her.

The rest of the day went quickly. When the bell to go home was rung, Ikenna came to my desk to ask how it went with Joy. I sighed and bit my tongue, holding it from telling him my mind.

“Fanta isn’t good for you,” I said.

“The sugar abi?”

I said no. “The ginger.”

He laughed. “So you met her. What did she say?”

“Was it Joy or Obioma that told you I was her man?”

“Is Obioma the name of the computer girl?”

I said I don’t know.

“Well, it is the computer girl…”

“She is not my type.” I rose to my feet. “Tomorrow things.”

“You are not staying for the lesson?”

I usually didn’t stay for the extramural classes whenever my name wasn’t in the timetable to teach. Teachers were expected to stay back but not me. Whenever my name wasn’t on the list, I went home. No other teacher did this; they all stayed behind. Not me, I go home and no one questioned me: No one questions the oracle.

I shook Ikenna goodbye then stopped by in JS2 class and told Michael to pick my books on his way home. As I pass by Oby’s classroom window, I stopped by to say hi. She smiled at me. “What do I do to make this smile broader?”

And the smile broadened.

“Are you going home already?”

“I am leaving something that belongs to me. Take care of it.”

“It or her?” she said, making a face.

“Her majesty,” I said.

Obioma should have been named Joy and Joy should have been named after a tailor. She radiated happiness. My hand had innocently been on the window. Oby innocently held it.

There were three of us here. I, Joy, and Innocent.

“I need to go now,” I said and sighed.

“Yea,” she nodded. “Look left and right before you cross the road.”

“I will.”

“Catch you,” she said with a voice that dripped honey.

I left, walking on the cloud. Call me Romeo. I wanted to keep to burst our singing. A Celine Dion or a Whitney Houston. Or Chioma Jesus or Akanchanwa. But I couldn’t just sing, I couldn’t go about ringing a cracked voiced in the middle of Owerri road just like that. I would sing in the bathroom later on.

When I saw the roof of Pa Mansion’s house, I smiled. Yesterday was a memory to continue to remember, to love and salivate about. That was not to say that I would have to accept their invitation to lunch today. I wouldn’t want to be the kind of man that is fed by an old man and a hired hand.

As I pass by the gate of the house, Pa Mansion called me. He beckoned to me before I could say a word and he disappeared back where he came from.

I climbed up. From the staircase, the smell of onion hit my nose. Behave, young man, I said to myself. I saw the cook, Chinenye, as I passed by, she was wearing a pair of tight pink leggings and I felt it wasn’t so decent to dress like this to work even if you work in the kitchen. I didn’t bother greeting her. We would greet when we see face to face.

Ma Mansion was reading a newspaper when I walked in.

“King-King,” he hailed.

“Good afternoon sir,” I said. We shook warm hands.

“Sit down,” he said in Igbo.

I said down. “Bring food for Kings,” he shouted. “We only have rice and stewed,” he turned to say to me apologetically.

I mentioned I would say no to their food today. Well, sorry, I lied. I unhooked the head of my belt. Chinenye came in with a big juice in her hand and a glass in the order one. She was wearing a sleeveless gown that revealed too much of her cleavage. I no longer felt it wasn’t so decent, now, it was clearly indecent.

“Good afternoon,” I removed my eyes and transferred it to my business which was to eat good food and drink rich juice.

“Afternoon, my dear,” she said and place the juice and glass before me. “I will be back shortly,” she said after she poured me a full glass.

“Is she not a beautiful woman?” Pa Mansion asked me as she left.

I grunted. Talking women with 70+ years old men wasn’t my idea of small talk. “Her husband is dead,” Pa Mansion said.

“It’s a pity,” I said.

Chinenye brought the tray of pure white rice and very red stew crowded with pieces of goat meat. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Chinenye sat beside me. I reached for the spoon. If the person who cooked this food put poison in it, let this be my last supper,” I said.

They laughed. I fetched a shovel of rice and stuffed my face. This is the Nnewi Dream.

“She has two kids,” Pa Mansion said of the cook. “She is still young.”

I grunted as I chased a meat tail with my spoon. I really wished they could leave me alone so I could eat with careless alacrity. This kind of food is not what you eat with grace. You disgrace the food and yourself if possible.

Chinenye poured another glass.

“You are like a son to me,” my host said, “and I wouldn’t want to put you under pressure. A father doesn’t ask his child to get live coals. An elder is a custodian of culture. In Igboland, a woman can choose to remain in her late husband’s house and raise his children. If she gives birth to other children, they belong to her husband.”

I stopped chewing. I looked up at the man and he smiled and winked.

I looked at the woman and she smiled sexually at me and place a palm on my name. The food choked in my throat. I grabbed my chest with one hand and covered my mouth with the other as a spasm of cough took over my entire.

“Get water,” Pa Mansion said.

Chinenye rose to her feer but I beat her to the door and ran for my life.

To be continued

Three Years On. How Can I Ever Forget Eben?

I am not good at remembering dates. I think apart from the regular Holidays such as Christmas, Independence, Children’s day etc, I am terrible with dates. But I know four dates. My birthday, my younger brother’s birthday, my significant other’s birthday, and Eben’s passing away date. How can I ever forget Eben? How can I ever forget July 9th, 2017?

Sometimes it seems so much like yesterday when I heard about his demise. Sometimes it seems so faraway, so 1994, so old that I struggle to remember any of the details. There is one thing that is very clear to me, however. I am frustrated.

The world is moving too fast from this fact: A very important man who is also my friend is dead and the whole world is acting like it never happened. Like they can live without Eben. Now, that is not the problem. My main frustration is that I am becoming like others, I am beginning to live without Eben. I am beginning to live as though Eben wasn’t such a big deal in my life. I am beginning to forget how Eben looks like, I am beginning to forget the ring of his voice, that laughter.

This breaks my heart. I so much wish for time to stand still or actually move backward to the time when Eben was here, or to the time when everyone mourned Eben. I promise to continue to remember Eben but I don’t remember him well enough. It seems Eben has been reduced to an annual blog post by me.

I feel so guilty.

I don’t know if I will ever do this again. Today may be the last time I write about Eben on this site.  I am beginning to struggle for what to say of him. I am beginning to struggle to find things to say about the memory of Eben and the void he left. I am beginning to feel like the rest of the people who have forgotten Eben.

I am so weak.

I don’t know how to salvage this situation. I don’t know how to mourn the pain I feel. I still miss my buddy but I am lost on how to show it; nay, to feel it. God help me. Please give me the fortitude to continue to remember and to mourn a friend I love so much.

July 9th would always be about you, Eben. Forever.

I am determined.