Here you are, rescued; by the one whose absence made you vulnerable in the first place, your mother.
She had come someday, during one of your holidays and requested the custody of you and Arinzechukwu. According to her, she was in a better position to take better care of you and also give you better education. Both families were involved. Dad was reluctant to let go. Mum was determined to succeed in her quest. Earnest deliberations and arguments were ongoing. During one of such moments between your parents, you had overheard them or rather you actually eavesdropped on their conversation. You had hidden your little frame behind the door to the sitting room.
“I’m in a better position to care for them” said your mum.
“I have a good job with a multinational in Lagos” she continued.
“But I never complained I was tired of caring for them, even with my civil service job” Dad shot back.
“You cannot just appear from nowhere and tell me what to do”
“This is not about ego. The future of these children is what should be paramount here” Mum maintained.
You saw your dad respond by throwing his hand in the air. There was momentary silence. Then you stepped out of the door.
“I will proceed to Lagos with mum”
Heads turned. Shock, unbelief was written on their faces, especially your dad’s face. It seemed you just appeared from the wall. For your mum, it was shock initially, then relief almost immediately.
“I’m tired of this Abakaliki life” You said grudgingly with a flat tone.
The audacity and effrontery of your voice seemed to have stunned them.
The journey to Lagos was the longest you had ever had. Arriving at the popular Ojota bus terminal, there were so many people, more than you had ever seen, all walked past so briskly, like nothing else but what they seemed to be up to mattered. Bus conductors hollered almost from everywhere, some dressed half naked. You were meant to cross over to the other side of the express road. It was the first time you walked over an over head bridge. You were terrified to see a sea of people down below. So you held your mum’s hand more tightly. She took a quick glance at you and smiled.
By 7pm that evening, you were home. Your new home that is, with your mother and her younger sister who already lived there with her. Your dad had insisted on retaining one of you, and Arinzechukwu was less willing to be taken than you were. So you were taken and he was retained.
Soon dinner was served. Your mum had hurriedly arranged a meal of spaghetti with sauce. While at it, you were given a breakdown of life in the neighbourhood by your mum. Life in Lagos was different from life in Abakaliki, you were admonished. Therefore, you were to strictly mind your own business. No street soccer, because you might be kidnapped or bewitched. The family that lived downstairs had a son who was a martial arts practitioner; you were to avoid him and his troubles. The family that lived directly opposite our house attended a certain church where they wore white garments and walked miles barefooted. You were not supposed to associate with such kind of people. In conclusion, you were warned that in Lagos, anything could happen.
Later, in your room and on your bed, you laid facing the wall. Thoughts began to come to you. Thoughts about your new life, your new neighbourhood, your new school? Yes your mum mentioned arrangements were being made for you to attend boarding school. Your eyes had popped out at the sound of that. Attending boarding was something you hardly imagined. Your dad could barely pay your fees in Abakaliki.
“Your lesson teacher will commence classes with you next week” your mum had said. Just when you were about to cut in and question the rationale behind that, because you never attended any extra lessons besides school in Abakaliki. You were more accustomed to running off with Arinzechukwu to play the game of football after school hours.
“You will be writing an entrance exam for admission into your new school, so I want to ensure you’re adequately prepared for it”. She explained.
To be continued