He always despised the dreary tempo of the National anthem. Yet there it was, blaring from the black and white TV set in the sitting room. He had grown accustomed to the soothing flute instrumental his father played early every morning. The sweet melody always filled him with ecstasy. However, this morning was different.
He got off the bed and peered out of the window. All seemed alright. The bucolic scenery was intact. Yet, there was something different today. The grasses were uncharacteristically green and the goats were already out of their pens munching away.
While pondering over why the calloused hands of his father failed to shake him off his slumber this morning, he instinctively turns to the half torn calendar in his room. He heads for the sitting room where he finds no one. Where is his father and why isn’t he sitting in front of the TV set as usual? His dad’s presence before the TV has always been an inevitable part of his morning for as long as he could remember. He shrugs the thought off even as he moves swiftly through the back door to the back of the house in search of his little brother. Still, no trace of anyone.
He runs back through the passage way and out through the front veranda but still no human presence.
Now this is becoming scary. In all his 18 years of existence; He’s never known such a feeling of foreboding like he was feeling today.
A thousand and one questions hit him. He is afraid to come up with answers especially as everything points to the negative. Better to discover than think, he resolves.
Suddenly he notices a red smear on a patch of grass. Upon closer scrutiny, he discovers that it is blood.
A scream rents the air. In panic, he suddenly makes for the wooden gate of the compound. Then again he halts. He was no coward; his father never brought him up that way.
With his last strand of courage, he approaches the front door. He enters.
The TV is still on. “God bless the Federal republic of Nigeria,’ the president declares as he wraps his Independence Day speech.
Nothing’s out of place here. Everything seems normal. Then he notices a sign just above his bedroom door post. “Today, you become a man,” it declares.
The look of horror on his face dissolves into surprise. The back door suddenly opens and his younger brother comes running towards him. Relief spreads across his entire being as he hugs him.
Then, his father appears in the doorway holding the carcass of a goat, its blood dripping on the floor.
“Happy birthday son. Today, you become a man.”
The next words would remain tattooed in his heart forever: Like Nigeria today is your independence day. You stayed to defend your home. You passed the test.’
Just then, it flashes on the black and white TV screen, ‘October 1st, 1988, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY.’