Continued from Part Three, published on: Oct 25th 2014
But for the so-called village counselors or small chiefs who usually comes around, using their walking sticks to trot like they are next in line for a coronation! Proudly telling anyone who care to listen about the lands and farms they own and how they have managed to raise the foundation or have plastered the walls of an un-completed boy’s quarter. The self-acclaimed landlords who by the way, still cannot afford to buy his newspaper!
“Eeeoo! What a pity!” “Hmmm, he’s dead too? One of them would start, and the others will carry through with their usual pity party monologue – all still holding on to the newspaper, the obituary column-page spread wide open in front of them as one of them quickly writes down the address of the burial ceremony’s evening gathering. Pa Sammy calls them the “The Obituary crashers” and would quickly advance forward, snatch the newspaper from them and ask for payment first or just place the paper down and ignore their questioning looks.
He’d learn the hard way. When he first started the newspaper vendor business, he’d been so loyal to a point, allowing passer-by to engage him in distracted conversation while they quickly glance at the news headlines – without making them pay for the whole newspaper. Getting home, he’d informed his wife, Mama Ovie that sales was slow, she’d cursed him out for being a bad trader, regarded him hopeless and had compared him to all the other successful men doing well in their village. After all, he should have been a good school teacher, articulately adorned in khaki shorts, white starched shirt and a cane! not a vendor! Useless paper man!, she would say and begin to cower as she sulks. A usual trait of hers.
Pa Sammy’s mind was set today. He needed to resolve the issue of cooperative trade he had started with his partner. He had been saving up for a while and had almost gone into shock when he realized that his only son Osa had been taking money from the brown envelope he had kept secretly inside the empty tin of bournvita, hidden inside Mama Ovie’s old wedding dress and accessories box – a place he figured no one will ever visit, after all, what will she be looking for in her forgotten portmanteau of over 20 years! Filled with about 2 dozens of camphor! He felt it was a safe place to hide his money. He was mistaken and broken-hearted.
But last night, the embarrassment he’d witnessed was too much for him. Disturbed and confused, Nengi, their landlord’s daughter had quickly rushed in to call for help as Osa was involved in another gang fight by the second gate entrance of the College of Education. He was under arrest again, the 9th time this year!
What was Osa doing there? Wasn’t he supposed to be out-of-town? In the seminary? Father Peter from their church had assured him that since Osa had no intention of pursing his education, it will benefit him to sign up for servitude at the seminary in Eleme junction, miles away from the city. Hopefully taking him away from distraction could help him settle down and focus on God. Pa Sammy was elated at the news of Osa in the seminary. Osa had caused him so much heart ache and disgrace. All he needed now was for him to leave and go somewhere for a while, well to a place where He could discover God and change his ways.
But the seminary could not hold Osa down either.
Just last month the corporative fee, He’d taken some loan to start another lucrative small business of paying his landlord’s son, Soki to help him in buying a bale of overseas used clothing. According to most of his newspaper customers and the stories from around the motor park, that was the best business to invest in now, especially around on campus.
They say campus students always have lots of pocket-money on them. They want to keep up with fashion and new trends and would spend their last money on a pair of new stoned washed jeans or a t-shirt that reads I LOVE NY! – Rather than buy a newspaper that tells of the horror happening within their country. His mind was made up and he was going to surprise his wife and also convince her that he’s getting prosperous in his choice of business. And she would be so impressed, will begin to dance, Oh! The native dance would melt his heart.
Mama Ovie is a very good dancer when she’s happy, and then she would rock his bald head in the cradle of her soft palm and sing some sweet songs of praises in their native dialect and then cook him his favorite dish. Yam pepper soup on the side and then later, bitter leaf soup with giant green periwinkle over steaming starch. And they will eat together from one bowl, feeding each other, laughing together and for one moment, forget about the troubles of Osa, and maybe even forget about Ovie and her so-many dramatic tale-telling and fake life…ah!
Where and how these students get their money from, is still a mystery to him. ‘Pa Sammy’, eh, listen very well…eh, you don’t need to bother yourself o, eh, on how they get the money, you just sell to them, and always say its first grade” Soki had coached him the first time he received his goods. “In fact, eh, you can even say, eh, your brother in overseas is the supplier, ok ” He’d ended that line with a very disturbing laughter that confused Pa Sammy.
Was he making the right decision? Should he use the money to bail Osa? Should he use the money for investment, in his new business? Or should he just catch the next bus going to the university to discuss it with Ovie? Would Ovie acknowledge him? In the midst of confusion within his mind, a sudden rush of crowd emerged towards him as he…To be continued
Written by Yinka.