The dust was blowing everywhere about the city, some particles getting into the eyes of the people going about their normal and daily business. The weather dry and hot amidst dusty air, making the teeth gritty of the sandy particles. The city rowdy here and there. Large crowds of people waiting at the bus stop.
Ndu had never been to the North before. He alighted from a luxurious bus he had boarded in the East earlier on. He wore his punk hair with pride. Now, at the motor park, he asked around how he could get to his destination.
“Excuse me, please how do I get to GRA,” he asked politely.
“No English,” the man mumble indifferently.
He later flagged down a taxi after some men off loading in the park had directed him to his destination.
“Tell dey taximan, say you wan go GRA,” one of the men had said.
The taxi stopped. “GRA,” announced Ndu.
“Where in GRA?” Asked the taximan.
“047 Bello Avenue.”
“Okay, na one naira.”
“Fifty. I only have fifty kobo on me.”
The taximan made a mental calculation and said: “Okay, enter.”
Bello avenue was a tree-lined way with each house heavily fortified and adorned with flowers in floral designs and patterns on the fences outside. The taximan was moving slowly so as to see the house with the number 047. They had reached the last house on this avenue without locating it. No-one was on sight. It was quiet as if it were a deserted place.
“Are you sure of the number?” asked the taximan eagerly.
“I am very sure of it.”
“Then, where’s the house? We’ve checked the whole houses and none has that number.”
“Please, let’s check back.”
“Na your money oh!”
While they were checking initially, it was the taximan who was checking the numbers on the houses, unaware that Ndu was admiring the beautiful flowers by the fences.
“Here we come, look at it 047 Bello Avenue,” chuckled Ndu.
“My money,” roared the taximan.
The taximan never wanted to accept what they agreed earlier on, however, Ndu persuaded him and he accepted and collected his money. He alighted from the cab as the taximan drove off. He made towards the black gate and knocked on it. On one of the columns of the black gate was an electric bell button which he did not notice initially. A guard in a sort of police uniform emerged from the black gate.
“Can I help you?” questioned the guard sternly.
“Please is this the residence of Professor D. Mbadi?” he inquired emphatically.
“Who are you and where are you coming from?”
“I am Ndu Eke from Umudimkpa village of Amah autonomous community and the Professo is my uncle, I am his nephew.”
“You are his relative?”
“Yes, he’s my mother’s elder brother.”
“Okay, wait. A moment.” The guard disappeared out of sight and reappeared again.
“Come in, but Prof says he doesn’t know you. Anyway come in.”
The Professor was noding his head in astonishment now. “You said you’re Ndu Eke?”
“Yes, the son of your sister.”
“You are now a grown up,” he paused and adjusted his rimless spectacles, “how was Ezinne, my sister when you left home?”
“She’s fine when I left.”
“And your father and younger ones?”
“They’re all fine.”
“But, if I may ask why didn’t you people write me that you were coming?”
“There was no means to get to you except this address mother got from Chief Ike Okoro who came back home. Here is the letter mother gave me to deliver to you,” he handed the brown envelope to the Professor, who tore the tip of the envelope, fishing the letter out and read in silence: the content had asked him how he was doing; that it had been over a decade they saw or heard from him; that they heard he was temporarily staying in the North; that since he did not wish to be home, she, Ezinne had decided to send Ndu so he could acquire Western education like the Professor; that she and her family extend their greetings.
Professor D. Mbadi wore a beard and had a sort of British mannerism about him.
“Not that I never wanted to be home. One has been busy. My being here is because of the research I am conducting and moreover it’s temporary. My family is still in the UK as you can see,” he disclosed.
Inside the sitting room, Ndu could not help admiring the artistic delight, the architectural beauty of the edifice and the floral designs of the flower out the window. Jasmine fragrance filled the whole air of the sitting room. A bar stood by the white painted wall at a corner, with all sort of liquor on the shelves. His heavy and neat beard, and suave manner defined him as a man of taste. He was a professor of Development Studies at the prestigious Cambridge University, where he studied too. Now, on a research study at the Northern University. He had never be home in the country for a very time except for this research work. He had married at Cambridge to Anita, an English born lady of Nigerian descent from a wealthy family. Then, came their children, Jojo, Betty and Tricia in that order.
“So you live here all alone?” asked Ndu curiously.
“Like I said, my being here is for a short while.”
He showed Ndu a room as he dropped his bag. A cook served some food on the dinning table. It was an egusi soup and pounded yam, served with cutlery. Ndu washed his hand in the sink by the wall, ignoring the cutlery.
* * * * *
Six months had gone ever since Ndu came to the North, and he was eager to meet his cousins visiting the country from the UK. A cheeroke SUV had gone to the Mallam Aminu International airport, Kano to pick the family. The Professor had gone with the driver, Abubakar, who always drove him to the Northern University.
At the airport, the family had arrived one hour earlier than expected, he urged the driver to scuttle up the tarred road. Now at the Kano airport the arriving family had gathered their luggage when the cheeroke SUV arrived. The whole family was reunited once more as they left Kano airport.
Jojo an undergraduate at Cambridge University became fond of Ndu. The family with the exception of their parents would board the cheeroke SUV for sight seeing around the town. Ndu perceived them to be aristocratic in their mannerism. He resolved within him to strive to travel overseas someday on his own. On one occasion when they had all gone for a sight seeing, as Jojo was driving, word came to them there was an upheaval in the town. Betty and Tricia urged him to head back home when they saw large number of crowd chantting towards them.
Anita had no option than to leave with her family on the next available flight back to the UK.
* * * * *
Ndu was offered a place at the Northern University where he applied for Mechanical Enginneering, but was offered Mathematics instead. In school for the first two years, life was hard for him; industrial strike by the academic staff hampered his plans and he was impatient of the strike. The military regime was less concerned. Boredom became a plague. The main building was empty and put up for renting by the housing agent as the Professor had gone back to Cambridge. He had to seek for a job so as to sustain life.
One sunny morning, he went out into the metropolis to search for a job, and got one in a polythene factory.