I woke that morning feeling like a child who had just received a measure of honey on his palm and the honey was already dripping down his fingers. I have a wonderful voice; I do not need anyone to assure me. My friends never tire of letting me know, though. But what I’m truly concerned about is the seven-point-five-million-naira prize. They can keep the record deal or I sell it to them at a price.
I quickly readied and jumped into busses on my way to Ikeja, the venue of the audition for the Nigerian Idol. Even though I got to the venue and registered as early as 7.15 a.m., my tag bore the number, “4685.” The sun appeared from behind the clouds too early and danced rapturously like a bride who had waited thirty nine long years to arrest a groom. Sweat poured down our heads and soaked our tight-fitting designer clothes. And as if in a competition, rain came later in the day and sent cold, like witchcraft, after us. The cold embraced us tightly without our consents.
I was slightly shivering when I walked into the audition-hall at about 5.20 p.m. The devil is a liar! The air conditioner hissed continuously and breathed cold on one side of the hall. I introduced myself and robbed my palms together. Then I sang R. Kelly’s “I believe I can fly.” I heard my good voice ring in my head and felt very proud. I shut my eyes, threw my head back and piped on like a bird. I lifted my hands and stabbed the air like one conducting an orchestra.
The judges stopped me half way, but I did not stop. I did not hear them. When I finally stopped, two of them had their index fingers plugged deep into their ears. Yinka Davis said she’d be frank with me. She needn’t waste my time. She said she knew a mechanic who was looking for an apprentice; maybe that job would do me good. I was no good singer at all. Me? Ehen!
That’s her stupid opinion; what does she know after all? Mtcheew! All I know is that I am talented and there’s no stopping me.
Come to think of it, what is it Mikel Obi even does on the field that I can’t do? How come he’s richer than my father, grandfather, great grandfather, and great great grandfather all put together? With this thought, I grabbed one of my younger brothers’ spare football-boots and raced to the field close to our house where Power Shooters FC train. I enrolled and trained really hard; I almost ran my heart out. Despite all my hard work, I never got to play any match. I just sat on the bench and watched my team take defeat after defeat. The silly thing was that, whether you played or not, you equally bore the blame for the loss.
My time came one day when my team played a visiting team. The local government chairman had thrown his weight behind Power Shooters. One of the boys that played my position had twisted his right ankle in training. The other one played like a fighter up to the seventy third minute then he came down with acute muscle pull. My coach called me in. I sprang like a tiger and laced my boots. I waved at the spectators as I trotted in to fill the position. No one waved back; they looked on, stone-faced like carved things. Some of them had placed bets on the possible outcome of the match. None of the sides was yet to draw first blood. The match went on from the seventy third minute to the eighty eight minute and the ball did not come my way or I did not get in the way of the ball. I just ran around in my shiny boots.
Then the very moment came, I had run around so much my head was beginning to spin. It was the eighty ninth minute. The opposing team got a corner kick. I was standing with my back to our goal post when our captain ran to me and jabbed me bizarrely with sweaty smelly hands and told me to face the corner from which the ball would come. I immediately adjusted and readied; next, the ball came flying from the right flank into our eighteen yard box. I just danced around. What else was I to do? All of a sudden, the ball bounced before me, all eyes riveted on me. I quickly calculated and sent it to the far left side of the post. Silence! Goal! The sound reverberated from one corner of the field to another. I had scored. Wonderful! I had scored a goal … but against my own team. I saw a pack of boys running towards me. A sachet of pure water exploded on my head and a cudgel followed. My brother, I took to my heels o, but they pounced on me and brought me down. I am alive today by the grace of the Almighty.
Chei! Those boys nearly finished me. I, the talented one – any way, there’s no stopping me…
(2nd episode on its way, watch out!)