Obi didn’t quite like that he had left home so abruptly. He had hoped to spend all of his summer break with his family. It was only fair seeing as he hadn’t been home since he started university three and a half years ago. He had started to miss his mum’s meals and the way she moved along to his father’s stereo on Saturday mornings when she prepared her famous pancake and custard.
Obi had always suspected that his father wasn’t much of a music lover but only went along with it because of how happy it made his wife. He would do anything to keep his wife happy, theirs was a love like a fairy tale. Obi had been told the story over and over in the years that he had spent living under their roof.
The story of a young couple who had despite all warnings, journeyed to England to start a life together. They had left Nigeria shortly after the independence, a time when everyone was hopeful and positive.
“Finally, we have driven the colonial masters off our lands things go better now.”
Izunna – Obi’s father told the story of the independent celebration to Obi every chance he got. There were mass jubilation on the city streets and in the villages. Even in the remote areas everyone was happy and hopeful.
But they had left regardless. Life in England was very tough at first especially considering the fact that his mum became pregnant with him shortly into the second year. They were both struggling to make ends meet. He had taken a position much less than he would have had to had he remained in Nigeria. She worked as a seamstress in a tailor’s shop, patching up torn clothes and sewing on zippers and buttons. Their combined income was barely enough to take care of both of them and the baby on the way. But they worked harder, their love and determination never wavering. Eventually things got easier, they started to find their footing and they haven’t looked back ever since.
Izunna’s father had tried to get him to stay back in Nigeria, he had secured a job for him at the civil service. It came with a hefty pay and a flat in the good part of town. His father was due to retire in a couple years and was making sure his family was taken care of before his retirement. He didn’t want it to be heard that any relation of his was living beneath a well to do standard. Especially his only son. He had spent 18 years in the civil service and was well known for his aristocratic lifestyle. He was well vested in the ways of the white man and lived his life as one. But unlike the white man, he did not turn up his nose to his people- not his brothers and kinsmen at least. He tried to help them in every way he could.
One time he had gone to the club to celebrate with a colleague. When they pulled into the parking lot some young boys fought over the right to watch over the car as was the custom.
“Na me get this one, Oga na me go look am”
He normally never paid attention to these kids as they where mostly hoodlums but on this day he looked up and immediately spotted Uzuama’s young son. The boy had ran away from the village to the city in search of greener pastures but much to his disappointments, city life was nothing like the tales he had heard in the village. He had become a delinquent, working the streets to get by.
Izunna’s father would later secure a job for him as an errand boy in one of the guest houses set aside for members of the civil service. The news of his heroic deeds traveled to the village and he was hailed as the son that could be counted on at all times.
But Obi never heard all this, not from his father at least. On rare occasions when his father was out of town and with much persuasion on his part his mother would succumb and tell him tales of his grandfather and his people. But she always made him promise never to speak of it.
“Why does father hate his people so much?” He had finally asked his mother one night after her stories.
“Your father doesn’t hate his people he loves them. Its all too complicated when you are older, you will understand”
But he was older now and he still didn’t understand any of it. His father still didn’t talk about his family and wouldn’t even consider going home to Nigeria. Not even after news reached him that his father has suffered a partial stroke and was on admission in the hospital.
Things carried on at home like nothing had happened.
Obi was presently in his final year at university with one semester to go and not entirely certain of what to do next so he had decided to return home. It had seemed like a good idea in the beginning, he had received a warm welcome from his mother and she had cooked him his favorite meal.
But after only a couple days at home he realized nothing had changed. The music still played, and his parents still very much ignored all their family members. Somewhere in the back of his mind he always knew what he wanted to do. What he had to do. But a confirmation came to him two weeks into his visit. His parents had both gone to church that evening as they normally do most evenings. He had decided to stay home because he didn’t feel well. After much hesitation his parents agreed and let him stay home. Part curiosity and part boredom had led him into his parents room and while he was going thru his fathers book collection he had found a letter. It seemed to have been written by his aunt – his father’s only sister.
In the letter she had urged him to come home and make peace with their father for it seemed he was nearing the end of his life. The later was dated June 1981, this was Aug 1985 and father still hasn’t gone home. It in that moment that he new exactly I what he had to do.
He folded the letter neatly and put it in the breast pocket of his shirt. Going back to his room he proceeded to pack his bags.
When his parents got back from church he told them a made up story of why he had to go back to the campus the following morning but promised to be back home before the weekend.
Now his heart beat loudly in his chest as he walked to meet a friend that could help him secure a ticket aboard a ship to Nigeria. He would have to go by sea as he could not go by air without alerting his parents. Now hoping to be far off before they would find the note he had left of his dresser explaining where he had truly gone. His heart caved as he tried to imagine his mother’s heartbreaking upon finding the letter but he dug deeper and steadied his resolve. He wasn’t going to change his mind, there was no turning back now.
***** TO BE CONTINUED*******