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The Abandoned Child - Episode 9

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    By Dominic Awoleye


    I took a short vacation and traveled west. It was an impromptu decision I took after reading the last letter from Uncle Goke. I felt home sick; I was done with every academic activity except for my clearance that would be done before the NYSC programme. The only people I told about my journey were Oga Dan and the Manager of Vita Logistics. DJ Slam was away on political rally; he mobilized body guards for some politicians and had to be on ground to keep his dogs under close supervision.

    My first point of call was at Mr. Goke’s house at Ibadan, a four bedroom bungalow with a two room boys quarters at Apata area of the city. He lectures at the sociology department of the University of Ibadan, he also owned a two hectare of land along old –Ife road where he farms, he goes there on public holidays and week ends.
    He was visibly surprised at the transformation he saw in me. I had grown taller and muscular compared to how I was five years before.
    His first child Oluwayemisi had gained admission into the University of Ife and was away at school when I came. The son was in final year in secondary school and the wife runs a Grocery shop built at the front of his house.
    I was with Madam at her shop after all morning chores and Mr. Goke had gone to work and the son to school. Madam left the shop at mid day to the popular dugbe market to replenish her stock. I was with the two paid sales girls she employed at the shop. Customers were trooping in and out of the shop from morning till evening. It was more hectic in the evening because the house is strategically location at a junction of three streets and as such returnees from work make their last minute purchases at the shop before getting to their home after the days activities.
    Mr. Goke had three cars in his compound. The Mitsubishi Van used by the wife for her business, a Toyota RAV 4 used privately by the wife and a Toyota Camry 2. 2 used by himself. I was proud of him as he had steadily climbed up the success Ladder over the years; he has even developed a budding pot belly. He does not drink and he does not smoke but he entertained me with my Ultimate Lager when I came around. “Gulder, the Ultimate”. The wife sells chilled beverages in her shop.
    I got to his house on a Thursday evening; I rested on Friday though I helped out at Madam’s shop then on Saturday we went to the farm with his son Gbadebo. When we got to the farm we changed into farm clothes, I wore an old cloth of his though it was under sized, it suited the purpose, we went plucking ripe maize and cutting down the stem of the plant, we later went to the Wife’s Garden and plucked the ripe Okra, pepper and vegetables, the harvest was reasonably large because the back of the Mitsubishi Van we went with was full.
    After working for three hours, we settled down and roasted some fresh maize. We made a big fire and threw the maize in it without peeling of the shaft. The fire cooked and roasted the maize, and then we pulled the burnt shaft out and peeled it off the maize revealing well cooked and delicious fresh maize grain. I ate six pieces and I was full. We drank from the chilled water bottle we brought from home before proceeding on second round of work which was tidying up the farm and the area we cooked. We gathered all the maize stems that we cut down and the shafts of the maize we ate and kept them on a plane ground to dry up for burning by the next visit to the farm. This would allow enough air into the farm land for other crops to thrive.

    We got back home around 4 PM and went to off load our harvest at Madam’s shop. She immediately displayed the maize and vegetables in smaller portions on a table outside her shop. She sold off everything before retiring into the house at 8 PM. People returning home from work in the evening bought off the fresh farm produce. Madam shared the proceeds of the sale into two halves and gave her husband a portion. That is how they live their lives; there was mutual love and understanding. Uncle Goke then gave Gbadebo his pocket money out of the money. He offered me some money but I declined. He was feeding me free of charge already. I owe this man my status today.

    I left for Ijan Ekiti on Saturday morning to return to Ibadan in four days before going back to the east.
    My house was as I had left it. I had to break the padlock because I had lost the key. I got there at 9 AM and started to clean up until after noon. There were dust and thick cobwebs all over the place. I opened all doors and windows as I cleaned
    Villagers came around when they noticed that some one was in the house. Every one that saw me screamed out their surprise at how much I have grown over the years, my physical features had changed save for my eyes. I left as a boy and returned as a man.

    On Monday morning I went to my land. The two plots given to me by the community some years back. It has been left uncared for all this while and has been over grown by trees and weed. I decided to keep my self busy while at home by clearing the land and fencing it.
    I went round my home town. Some of the old butchers were still alive and selling. I saw some urchins on stand by waiting for the butchers to throw something away. I greeted the butchers, they were happy to see me; the old women that sell vegetables and fruits remembered me and prayed for me as I gave them some money.
    I went to greet Modupe’s Landlord “Baba Landlord” who happened to be my name sake. Another tenant had taken over Modupe’s house. He was very surprised at my transformed self. He asked if I ever ran into any member of Modupe’s family. I said no. He sent some fresh curses to them where ever they were and I said Amen.

    Akin, Modupe’s boy friend years back came to my house the next day Tuesday, I was at my plot of land working in company of Tunde, a young Lad that was born just before I left for secondary school years back. He is the grand son of Baba land lord and has taken an immediate liking to me. He saw me going out of my house with my Cutlass in the morning and had run to pick up his own Cutlass to join me; he thought I was going to farm. He was named Babatunde then because he was born a day after his father died. The pregnant mother died out of high blood pressure which had led to a forced labour that produced him. He had been with his grand father since then. He did not suck his mother’s breast. Baba Landlord has three daughters while in active service. His wife had died of cancer several years back and he lost his first daughter who gave birth to Tunde. The other two daughters are in their husbands houses.

    Things were not too rosy for Akin. His influential father had died six years back and his wealth shared amongst relatives. He did not get much. He had graduated about three years back but yet to get a job. None of his father’s acquaintances could help him. He had believed so much that his father’s connections would pave way for him. He was disappointed in the City so he has come back home to farm, and since he cannot farm alone, he had put a young girl in the family way; at least life must go on! He had said.

    He apologized to me for taking sides with Modupe years back when we had a quarrel. He said Modupe and her family had relocated to Lagos with my money. Modupe gained admission into the University of Lagos to study secretariat studies while the mother shuttled between Nigeria and Dubai for business. He said they lived in Amuwo Odofin estate. He could not continue his relationship with Dupe after the death of his father because he was short of cash and could not continue to service the extravagant life style he was living with Dupe. He was ashamed of himself as Modupe was then a Lagos girl with high taste and expectations.
    He went to my house to get a Cutlass and together, the three of us worked on my land until the evening. We retired to my house and took our baths. I sent Tunde to buy a gallon of palm wine from “Baba Elemu” the wine Taper. We sat outside the house on the terrace drinking and gisting and before long there were about ten youths drinking and gisting. Baba Landlord joined us later with an additional gallon of freshly tapped wine.
    Akin reminded the small forum to stop referring to me as Bolaji but Engineer, he told them it was not a small feat to achieve while Baba land lord went into a story telling session about the white man’s technology called engineering, he held the listeners spell bound with lies that sounded like fact to my hearing.
    Baba landlord was a police officer that had worked in several Cities before retiring in Lagos as a superintendant. He built his houses while still in service and till date, his detractors say he built the houses out of bribe money called “egunje”
    Every time he told a lie that surprised the small audience and they exclaim their disbelief, he told them to confirm from me. I simply said “beeni” it is so! Every one was high on palm wine and would not remember the discussion by the next day. Akin was just enjoying himself laughing at their gullibility.

    By Friday, the two plots of land was cleared, my friends that came to drink at my house all turned up with their Machetes the next morning and we descended on the land cutting down and up rooting trees. Of course at night we drank ourselves into the night again and this time, there was bush meat and some Village girls too to spice up the forum. Three girls joined us from no where. These were girls that have had at least two kids in their father’s house and were ready to go home with any man as long as you can buy them drink and food and give them a little change to fend for their Kids.

    I called a brick layer to build a fence round the two plots of land while a contracted a local welder to built a gate for me. He was happy to charge me half of the amount I had expected to be charged for the job..

    There were no more innocent girls in the Village. All the little girls I left in the Village have become Baby mamas to some elusive boys. They roam the village with their babies strapped to their backs while their boy friends eke out their living by riding commercial motor cycles in Ado Ekiti, the capital City. Their only hope is to be married eventually to a widower or to be second wife to a local rich farmer. It was sad to see how low our girls had degenerated.

    They were shy to come to my house for fear of being ridiculed by the elderly, especially Baba Landlord who has made my veranda his resting place in the afternoon drinking palm wine until evening.
    ______
    There were no more innocent girls in the Village. All the little girls I left in the Village have become Baby mamas to some elusive boys. They roam the village with their babies strapped to their backs while their boy friends eke out their living by riding commercial motor cycles in Ado Ekiti, the capital City. Their only hope is to be married eventually to a widower or to be second wife to a local rich farmer. It was sad to see how low our girls had degenerated.

    They were shy to come to my house for fear of being ridiculed by the elderly, especially Baba Landlord who has made my veranda his resting place in the afternoon drinking palm wine until evening.

    The new house built for me after the Alabi’s gang incident had an extended terrace where one could sit and relax while watching passers by as they go to or return from their farms or market. It is a four bed room bungalow built with modern architecture and the first of its kind in my village. The floors of all the rooms were tiled wall to wall; the walls of the kitchen and the convenience rooms were all tiled. A well was also dug at the back of the house during the construction of the house. I bought a pumping machine and mounted a GP tank so that I could have access to water in my house as the plumbing job was properly done by the builders. I also bought some electronic gadgets and a medium sized power generator to argument the inherent epileptic power supply so my house was always full whenever there was power outage and an important programme was been telecast on TV, especially football matches.

    My villagers are poor people as we were basically peasant farmers. Money was very scarce and on seeing the way and manner in which I was living in the village, they thought I was a rich man. Apart from those very close to me, none knew much about my life achievement and what I had been through in life. They saw the young boy that was given money by community and government years ago, a young boy that was given scholarship to university level and a good job waiting for him. So they came to me with varied problems.
    Some widows would come to my house very early in the morning to beg for money to feed or money to pay their children’s school fees. Some young Baby mamas would stalk me till I am alone or when I am with Tunde alone and fall on their knees begging for assistance to start a business that could help them carter for their children’s needs. Many of the Baby mamas have learnt one trade or the other but needed money to buy sewing machines, weaving machines, hair drier; the list was endless. I was helping everyone that came to me for help and the news went viral through out the Village and neighboring communities that a philanthropist has arrived.

    It was Baba landlord that spoke some senses to me.
    My son! He had said while we were seated outside my house drinking palm wine mixed with legend extra stout; “a fool and his money are soon parted”!
    Meaning what sir? I asked
    Our people are not good! They will milk you dry! At the end when you are broke, they will say “we wonder what the fool did with his money”! It is good to help people; it is very, very good! But you must help your self first! Not all of these people that come to you for help actually need help! Some are pathologically lazy and have refused to help themselves because they leach on people like you!
    Have you started working?
    No sir! I replied
    Then why are you spending money on people like you are working and your salary is in seven digits? And from my findings, you have not even gone for your NYSC programme!
    Yes I have not gone sir! I replied
    You worked hard to train your self in school; you disciplined your self to save up some money! Not so?

    That is correct sir!
    How many of these villagers that you are dashing out your money to would do what you are doing, having gone through what you have been through in life?
    Our people say the “it is the oily fingers that people with lick with you! Not the bloodied one” when you were toiling, no one was there! That is why you see that I buy my palm wine while coming to sit down here with you! I hate parasitic human beings! They will ruin you! For your information, my finding is that most of these villagers did not even know that you lost everything to Modupe and her mother; they did not know that you lost the scholarship due to the bank collapse years back! When they come to you they come with the mind set of reaping from what the government has planted in one of theirs! They say it is government money! Our money!
    Jesu christi o o! I shouted; I was shocked.
    Look! I am a pensioner in this village but no body can come to me for any yeye help because we know ourselves. How can you come to me for money when I know you have a well to do son in Lagos or in Port Harcourt? How can you come to me when I had seen you and warned you to stop frolicking with a never do well boy that keeps pressing your breast under the orange tree every night until he impregnated you and left the village to ride Okada in Ado Ekiti? I know something about every one in this village. That does not mean I do not help o! I do! I help those hospitalized that needs genuine financial assistance. I help those in need and not those in want!
    Ha! Baba I am short of words; I said.
    Don’t worry my son! He said; just be cautious and learn to sometimes say no!

    My money was running low; it was time to leave the village. I had planned spending a week in the village but I ended up spending two months. Village life is very exciting especially when you have some money in your pocket.
    I gave Akin some money to start a small business; he wants to go into the Cocoa purchase and resale business. I reminded him to be careful not to end up like the legendary Alabi. I gave Baba Landlord some money too but he refused until when I told him it was for Tunde’s education and upkeep, he collected it and prayed for me. He said he feels he owe me something; he said he had gone to Lagos severally to help track down my mother to no avail before he gave up hope. He asked if she ever contacted me, I said I never met her and if I do I would not have known it was her. He said there are things he need to tell me about her but I told him I was not interested, I told him to take care of Tunde, I had agreed with him that Tunde will move in with me immediately I settle down. That was when he told me that “a man can never fully settle down until the day he dies”!


    ...To be continued
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  • Oyin Young: Wednesday, 25 January 2017 at 05:42:00
  • Label(s): The Abandoned Child
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