Warri Nor Dey Carry Last 18
Chronicles of Okiemute in Lagos
It was that time of the year when weekends are as boring as hell. That time in June when football leagues are on seasonal break, and football loving fans that are addicted to weekend matches live in their houses like prisoners. “We can’t just sit here and be looking at ourselves, let’s improvise an activity to keep us busy”, Bayo suggested. “Let’s play chess or scrabble. I can go get it from my room”, Kenneth replied. “Those are boring games, please. Let’s see a movie or just play music”, Okiemute raised a counter suggestion. As uncertainty loomed in the room, Bola gave his opinion on the matter. “Both suggestions are good, but I would prefer something that could bind us more and make us enjoy this moment. I mean something that can help us understand ourselves better”. Everyone agreed to the idea, but the question then was, ‘what would that game be?’ Just as Joseph was asked to proffer solutions after interpreting Pharoah’s dream, Bola was asked to name an activity that can help them bond with each other better. “I believe the more we know about ourselves, the better we would understand ourselves. And this would not be possible except we tell the stories of our past, and how it shaped our present mindset and beliefs”, Bola explained.
Everyone was excited about it, but Kenneth was extremely in support of the idea. He started acting like someone that has so much of his past clogged to his chest and wanted to unclog himself. The rule was to share something you have experienced in life that is responsible for a particular mindset you have today.
Bayo took the first turn and shared his story. “Growing up was tough in my house, as my parents were both mid-level state worker in Ogun state”, he started. “We were basically living from one paycheck to the other. In fact, my dad used to tell us that he was funding our education from loans and that if he died without paying up the debt, we should not curse his corpse when the debtors come for their money because he did not use it for himself but on us. That was to tell you how poor we were. In the midst of all that financial hardship, my parents still ensured we got the best education they could afford.
My elder brother got admission into Lagos State University, and the financial burden in the family skyrocketed. I had to withdraw from the private secondary school I was attending, as my parents had nothing left after paying up my elder brother’s tuition. In his first year, one of his friends came home for the weekend. You know the era before mobile phone became prevalent, you have to write letters through your friend going home for the weekend to request things from your parents. So his friend came around and handed my Dad a letter from my elder brother. One could literally feel my father’s breathing rate increasing as he tore the letter open. He was scared as always, the fear of not being able to meet up with the financial implication of training a child through the university had constantly been his nightmare. After going through the letter, he had a sigh of relief and passed the letter to my mother. The request was just foodstuff to be sent through his friend. My mum quickly packaged the foodstuff at home, emptying almost every goddamn container of the various food items, and gave it to my brother’s friend.
I noticed that my elder brother friend was still loitering our area long after my mum had responded to the message he came to deliver. What he was still doing, I could not tell. The next morning, being a Sunday, he came around again. This time my parents had left for church already, as they were both leaders in the church and often go very early. I was just stepping out of our compound when I saw him. He told me he was leaving Abeokuta for Lagos that morning, and that he had not been able to deliver a letter to a particular girl in our neighbourhood. He begged me to help him deliver it. I obliged, and he gave me the letter and left. I went back inside to keep the letter as the girl in question might have left for church. They were one of those fairly comfortable people in our neighbourhood who own a car. Their whole family usually go to church on Sundays in the car. ‘I will deliver the letter in the evening’, I said to myself. Though I was innocent as a young boy in senior secondary school, I was not ignorant of what the content of the letter would likely be.
All through the service in the church, I was thinking of the content of the letter. I kept picturing the face of the guy as he tries to woo the girl with words. My mind kept going through the various love letters I have read in magazines from my classmates in school. As I was still trying to curtail my curiosity and deliver the letter without tampering it, the sermon of that day increased my curiosity. The pastor talked about how Uriah took his own death sentence in his hands without knowing it when King David sent him to Joab, the commander of the Army of Israel. Finally, I had a justification for going through the content of the letter. I could not wait for the service to end for me to go home and read the letter. In short, I was already regretting why I did not put the letter inside my Bible when coming to church. Sermon finally ended, and we went home.
I went straight to where I had kept the letter, picked it up, tore it open, and perused the content carefully like someone reading comprehension passage in other to answer the questions that would follow. I almost fainted after going through it. Jeez! The letter was written by my elder brother. Aside from his peculiar handwriting, his parlance, use of words and signature sealed the fact that he wrote the letter. I had to confirm all that because I was trying to defend him that he might have helped his friend to write the letter. I just could not believe that someone seeing the difficulties the whole family was going through would be writing a love letter in his first year!
At first, I wanted to show my parents the letter, but then, I considered the heartbreak and disappointment it would cause them especially my mother that sees him as her impeccable child that has never brought the family shame. I was mad at his actions, mad at the girl that is making him act foolishly, and also mad with his friend that came to deliver the letter. I went outside with a box of matches and burnt the letter.
Some months later, he brought another letter and asked if I had delivered the first one. ‘Of course, I did’, was my reply. He gave me this new letter and even added that it was urgent. As soon as he left, I burnt it without even opening the letter. It was much later that I realised that the second letter was to notify the girl that her name was out, she has been offered admission to study in Lagos State University (LASU) too.
By the time she went to check her admission status, registration had already closed. She was mad that her ‘boyfriend’ could not help her follow up with a simple admission process, and her ‘boyfriend’ was angry that his ‘girlfriend’ was not ready to get admission as she refused to show up even after receiving his letter. If only they had known that the letter got lost in transit. She had to settle for a diploma programme that year, as she was eager to get admission, to be closer to her boyfriend.
Today they are married to different persons, with kids, and I don’t know if it ever crossed their minds that I was responsible for the missing letters, but my brother never asked me. However, the guilt taught me a lesson on the dangers of unnecessary assumption. Today, no matter the past report, I give benefits of the doubt so as not to burn someone admission letter again”, Bayo ended his story. They all laughed as he described every bit of what happened, giving detailed descriptions of everything.
“But you did not tell us the content of the love letter? Did it meet your expectation or it was less than what you expected?”, Okiemute asked before taking his turn to share his story. “My brother, my photographic brain went off after I saw that it was written by my brother. Sincerely, I could not even remember the content immediately I burnt the letter, I was that angry”, Bayo replied laughing.
“Well, mine is quite similar to yours” Okiemute started, “I was around seven years of age when it happened. We had just relocated from a suburb town of Ibadan to Warri, my home state. As a young boy, I could barely say anything clearly in English. Growing up in a community where everyone spoke a local dialect had a toll on me. In fact, my cousins used to call us bastards for speaking a ‘foreign’ language when we could hardly greet clearly in our own mother’s tongue. By the time we started to acclimatise in Warri, by default, we were drawn to kids that could speak Yoruba, as they made it easy for us to communicate. One fateful day, a girl that we used to call ‘aunty Sikira’, as she was almost twice my age, called me to help her with something. Everyone knew her in our compound due to the herbal drugs, popularly known as ‘agbo’ that she hawks around. I followed her into their house, and as we walked into their room, she allowed her wrapper to drop from her body, leaving her with her birthday suit. I thought it was a mistake, and I innocently picked it up and handed it to her. She grabbed my hand and drew me to herself, hugging me tightly to her tiny breast that were just coming out. And then she started to kiss me passionately.
I was more confused than shocked and did not know whether to cry out or to stay there. Then she moved her hand towards my tiny penis and started caressing it. I was just there like a wood, stiff and immobile, but the thing between my legs soon started responding to her touch. She took my small hands and tried to massage her breast with it, or perhaps she was trying to show me what I was supposed to do. Then she laid on the floor, with her legs spread wide, she made me look into her vaginal, telling me that babies do come out of that small hole. While all this was going on, I could not say anything, in fact, it was more of a trance for me. It was when she asked me to put my tongue and lick her down there, that I got my senses back. As I bent over to do as she had requested, the odour from her honey pot formatted my brain and jerk me back to consciousness. I stood up immediately, shook my head in protest. And when she could not have me do that, she took my hand again and started fingering herself with it. I was still there looking at her and wondering what the hell she was doing? As she wanted to shout and keep quiet at the same time. She will open her mouth wide like someone that wants to scream, and as if she suddenly remembers that she was in a public compound, she would clench her teeth without making any sound. She kept on opening the mouth and clenching her teeth for some time and then took my hands away. She then knelt in front of me, placed her lips on my penis, and started kissing it. Gradually from kissing, she started sucking it. The sensation was more of tickling than pain, so I did not know whether to laugh, cry, or just watch her.
When she was done, she wore me my pants and tied her wrapper back, asking me if I enjoyed it. I did not answer a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ because I could not really describe the feeling. She gave me biscuit and sweets and asked me to eat it there before leaving. As I was eating it, she asked me to promise her that I will not tell anybody and that she will be teaching me how to speak English so that the people around won’t be calling me bastard again. I gave her a nod as a way of giving her my word. That was how I became her pet for two good years until she left the area. She soon started calling her friends to the show and they will be using me for sexual lessons. It was from them I learnt how to know when a lady wants it, how to please a lady sexually even without going into her etc. When she left the neighbourhood, I started engaging her friends she introduced to me. They grew up and had boyfriends far bigger than me, but they still fancied spending moments with me.
When I grew up and discovered that they were sexually assaulting me back then without me knowing, I decided to pay back. And that was how I became ‘a heartless womaniser’ as Bola often like to describe me. I will just seduce any lady, make them fall in love with me, and I will move on. With the way I was raised by those girls in my childhood, I can play along to the extent that the lady can bet with her life that I really loved her. I just make them a victim the way I was their victim too” he ended.
“So you went through all that and you never told me all these years?” Bola asked bewildered. “I did not see any need to tell you because I had already passed judgement and have decided on what to do. Coupled with the fact that you’re too judgemental”, Okiemute replied. “After all, I gave the society what they gave me, no love lost”, he added, with a mischievous smile. “See this man, e don tey make you spoil dey come”, Kenneth responded to Okiemute story, as he kept shaking his hand over and over again.
Kenneth changed his sitting position as he was about to share his own story. “Mine is completely different from the two of you, but I hope it is as interesting as yours”, he began. “My parents were Anglicans, though the rest of our extended family members were Catholics. How we became different from the rest of them, I can’t tell, but growing up in Anglican was not a bad idea either. My Dad was a devout member of the church we were attending in Asaba back then and was soon made a Deacon. The thing about him is his commitment to whatever he believes in, and he is always a crazy lover of hard work. At any given opportunity, he ensures he rewards hard work. While growing up, he always gives presents to anyone that does extra chores in the house outside his or her designated chores. So many times, he paid school fees and enrolled different examinations for academically sound students in our church. It was one of his ways of rewarding hard work.
On one occasion, we were building a new cathedral and all hands were on deck. My Dad was in the building committee and so had to be at the site every day. Considering the fact that he runs his own business, he was always there. He soon took notice of one young boy that was always there too, even during school hours. Typical of my Dad, he wanted to know why the boy was not in school. He was told the boy had lost his parents in a communal clash, so his uncle had brought him to the city to school, but as it stands, he was yet to enrol for senior school certificate examination. My Dad was furious. How could they allow him to be doing this kind of work at his tender age when he won’t be paid for it? His uncle was a member of the church, but he was a low-income earner. A tailor with a wife and five children to cater for. That was how my Dad took this boy home and he started living with us. I was just preparing for Junior secondary school examination back then, so the boy soon became my elder bro. And in the spirit of not wanting to discriminate against him, he soon started enjoying the privileges of being the senior boy in the house.
Quickly, my Dad enrolled him for G.C.E and the normal Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, and he started attending preparatory classes. This guy was like an angel, blameless! He was so helpful in the house and made my Dad stop seeking the help of a private teacher for me, as he taught me at home dedicatedly. He did not make his G.C.E by the time the results were released, and he was worried. My Dad consoled him, telling him that he actually enrolled that one for him as a test run. Luckily for him, he made his senior secondary school certificate examination in flying colours. He took the University Matriculation Examination and scored two hundred and forty-four. My Dad was so excited that evening and started dancing in the living room. That day I was a bit jealous as I have never seen my Dad so happy. It was the era of the cut-off mark, and this young man was offered admission to study Civil Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. My Dad went everywhere with him, as he ensured he got all that he needed to be comfortable in school. He really did not disappoint, as his first-year results were within the first class range. He made me loved engineering so much, as calculation seems to be the air he breathes.
In his second year in school, something tragic happened. There was a clash of political interest in our locality, and my Dad shops were demolished. Our house in the street not far from the shop was also marked for demolition, claiming that the land was illegally acquired. Those were really trying times for our family. In the midst of it all, my Dad was still making this guy schooling a priority. Things soon grew from bad to worse, especially for me as I could not pass my senior secondary school examination at a single sitting. I begged this guy to allow me to come to stay with him in school so that he can put me through, but he would not agree. ‘I am starving here, just trying to concentrate so as not to have an extension’, he would say. As always my Dad would defend him, and will always remind me that the guy read and passed from this house. It was during his final year that I passed my senior secondary school certificate examinations. But this time, I have resolved to take him out of my life and face my issues myself. In the end, I really thank God that I did, because a few months before his graduation, he was also refusing his cousin from coming to see him in school. He wouldn’t allow his uncle’s child to visit him in school. Unfortunately for him, that one was not like me.
One fateful day, the guy left Asaba and went to Owerri to find his cousin. Armed with the name and department, the guy went in search for his big cousin in school. He, however, got the shock of his life when he found out that his cousin was a big boy on campus and very popular in the whole of his faculty. His academic brilliance had earned him several scholarships, to the extent that he had two motorcycles and a campus shuttle working for him. Thanks to the good samaritan who hinted him of the information after seeing the striking facial resemblance he shared with his cousin. It was through him that the news got home. After his graduation, he could not visit Asaba for shame and betrayal of everyone’s trust, especially that of my father. When my Dad heard that he was graduating, he went to Owerri to celebrate with him. In his words, ‘I have played my part’. I refused to go with my Dad because all what was going through my mind back then, was to just kill him. When my Dad came back, he narrated how he was crying and apologising claiming that the lady that helped him to start looking for scholarships was the one that misleads him. What he did not tell my Dad was that the said lady was pregnant for him as at that time. My brother, from that time till now, I don’t have anything to do with him, and it has made me very suspicious of people. In fact, trust does not exist in my dictionary”. Kenneth concluded. “No wonder!” Okiemute and Bayo chorused as Ken ended his story.
Bola did not waste time to let Okiemute know that he was also being judgemental towards Kenneth. “You just showed that you are human, and a Nigerian for that matter. Hypocrisy and double standard are gradually becoming our second nature”, he said. Before he could react, Bola started his story, as it has now gotten to his turn to share his.
“There are many things that have shaped my short existence on earth,” he said, but top on the list is what I want to share now. I grew up in the outskirts of Lagos, a small community with low-income earners and peasants. Two things made my family stand out in that neighbourhood- religion, and academic brilliance. We were devout Christ Apostolic Church members, and everyone in the area knew that. This was however beneficial in some ways as those young gangsters in the area never disturbed my elder brother and me to join them, as we grew up. We were one of the very few families whose children were all bright. What was prevalent then was a house having one academically bright child, while the others might be average or below average.
In my fifth year in secondary school, I found a football partner in my neighbourhood that was like my second half. In short, I wished he had come to the area earlier when we were still younger. We understood each other on the field so well, that our duo became a threat to any team in the area. As our friendship blossom, I started visiting him in their house. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew that our house was out of bounds to visitors. My Dad was a very conservative person that had no friends. He greets everybody, but he was attached to none. He wanted us to be like that, but it was difficult for us, perhaps because our mother was the direct opposite. But one thing was sure, you can’t welcome visitors if he was around, and you can’t leave the house if he was around too. Those were the sins that gave me most of the marks on my thigh today, especially leaving the house to play football on Saturday mornings when everyone was busy doing one thing or the other at home. I found out that this guy, Samson, though my agemate, we were a world apart academically. While I was preparing to leave secondary school, he was planning to leave primary school. In my visit to his house, I started helping him with his academic work.
He later introduced me to his younger sister, Joyce, who was in the same class with him. She was two years younger, though taller than her elder brother, she was the same height as me. Light in complexion as typical of people from Southeastern Nigeria. She joined the classes and all seems well and good. Their mother was a crayfish seller, always travelling to the creeks to buy crayfish. While their Dad, I heard was still finding his feet, so he was shuffling different menial jobs. He came around once in a while. I finally met their mum in person and she took an interest in me. She started calling me Joyce husband, and we would laugh over it. Samson would often tell them not to spoil Bola because he is the son of a pastor.
One fateful day, I came from school and went to their house before leaving for evening lectures. On getting there, I met Joyce alone with their last child, a two-year-old baby girl. She just finished bathing her and was dressing her up on the bed when I walked in. Samson was not at home and she did not know where he had gone to. I sat on the bed as usual, because there was no chair in the room. When she was done dressing the baby and rubbing her powder, she threw the baby at me. I held the baby in my arms, rocked her a bit, threw her up, and then placed her on the bed. I then knelt beside her and pumped her stomach with my mouth, to form that tickling sound that often makes babies laugh. She was giggling with a fine broad smile on her face when Joyce knelt beside me. We were both facing the baby on the bed with our behind facing the entrance of the room when someone walked in.
It was Janet, her big cousin, whose mother sells fruits at the entrance of the street. She was staring at us like someone that caught a child stealing meat from a pot of soup. ‘What were you doing?’ She asked. Of course, we were doing nothing. So we stood there gazing at her. ‘Playing with the baby’, I finally muttered. She kept looking at Joyce in the eyes as if to force the truth out of her. Then she asked the question again. This time I was angry at Joyce more than the way I was angry at Janet. Why was she acting like she was guilty of something? As I was about to leave, she said ‘Sebi you dey form stubborn now. You go soon confess’. I shoved Joyce from the way and walked out. I left as Joyce was still there begging her. I went back home, took my books and left for my lectures. On my way, I met Samson, and I narrated what happened to him. He just waved it off and told me not to bother myself. It was quite soothing to hear, we bade each other farewell, and I continued my journey.
We were waiting for the third and last tutor for the day when my sister came to call me from inside the class. As I saw her, I knew there was fire on the mountain. I tried finding out why she did not wait for me to come back from the lecture instead of walking down to call me. Her reply was short and direct, ‘don’t you know what you’ve done? You have disgraced Mum and Dad in front of the whole community’. As she said that, my legs could no longer carry me. I started to lose consciousness, my thoughts were vague and my mind was blank. I found myself doubting my innocence, and began to wonder if there was something I have done that I did not know. By the time I got home, the whole neighbourhood had gathered in front of our house.
Janet had gone to tell her mum that she caught us fondling ourselves on the marital bed of Joyce parents. And their aunt had quickly sent for the people of their town to come over, with the narration that ‘church people’ have committed a taboo. It was that day that I knew that they were from Benin and not Igbos, as I earlier assumed. Unfortunately for me, Joyce mum was returning from the creek with a truckload of goods and her fellow traders, which were mainly from their tribe. They stopped the truck at the junction and told her the whole story. I was told she waved it off defending me that I can’t do such things. But the women attacked her and threatened to tell her husband that she is inviting death to her home with her own hands. Janet mother was the chief coordinator. They all marched to our house to confront my mother, who unfortunately was also at home that evening. They told her what I have done, and the repercussions if we don’t appease the gods. Before you knew it they have brought the tattered and torn mattress to our house, on the ground that it had been defiled and must be cleansed through traditional sacrifice or replaced. By the time I got home, Joyce had been crying without denying the allegations, and when I started explaining what transpired, everyone thought I was lying. I was beaten blue-black. But then I was already a living corpse, nothing again mattered.
They sent for their Dad and several meetings were held. I was just fifteen, and with a very good moral record in the area, many adults stood in my defence, though they believed that I did it. But pleaded for leniency based on my past good conduct. My parents stood their ground that they were Christians irrespective of what might have happened, and cannot be part of any sacrifice. So they took the option of replacing the mattress.
After that settlement, my Dad told me to forget enrolling for G.C.E, as he had used the money to buy a mattress for me since that was more important to me. I almost died. I could not eat, I could not go anywhere for shame. The news went viral, church, school, the whole area. All my playmates believed it save Samson. For the first time in my life, I contemplated suicide. I just wanted to die as that seem to be my only way of escape. Till date, my parents did not believe I was innocent.
This is the reason why I feel sorry for those depressed and contemplating suicide. At that point in time, it is always like the safest and surest escape route.”, he ended still feeling sober about the whole situation.
The whole house was quiet when he was done talking, it was obvious he still felt pained despite the length of time that has passed. “So how did you and Joyce end it?” Kenneth asked, trying to break the silence. “Did you finally get the worth of your mattress?” Okiemute asked too teasingly. Forcing a smile, he replied, “she later apologised for being so timid, as she did not know why she went dumb too. But I have moved on and did not take the apologies seriously at all, as I kept asking her, how many people can she tell the truth now? Or what if I had committed suicide back then? All the same, it was a bitter lesson well learnt”.
The game was worth the time, as they all started seeing themselves from a different perspective. Before long, it was evening already, and they decided to take a walk around the area. Saturday was gradually getting to an end.
IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.