Xmas is coming and I can only help but think about how fast the year has gone by. I hope your year went as good as you hoped for and even better!
My last bellanaija article can be found here. Today, I am posting a feature from My. Etoh, a talented writer (happy belated birthday by the way :) ). So please, as usual, enjoy and share with your friends and feel free to leave your comments below in the comment sections.
All my life, I have always looked for a time and an age where I would invite my friends over for a chill out or for a party. All my birthdays starts and ends with wishes, and wishes, and more wishes, and worse case scenarios, members of my family forget I was even celebrating. It’s been this way so much that I now considered it a ‘culture’, my way of life, until my last birthday.
I had hopped on an okada* with my weight pressing hard on the seat as I landed my buttocks against the wet chair. I knew I couldn’t get any wetter than I already was, and even though I knew I couldn’t hide from the rain, I was sure to make the okada man pay for my sins. So I shrugged behind him and made sure no part of me was seen by this bad-belle rain.
Sometimes I wondered how these okada-men drove in the rain, I wondered how they saw the road, and worse still, they also drive in same conditions at night. I knew it was extremely dangerous, at least the risk of slipping and landing inside a ditch was high; but for once I had never cared. I had been riding on this means of transportation all my life, it somehow was a part of me, and sometimes I wished I could travel on bikes to the village. That was how complicated my okada life was.
Just about ten seconds into the journey, my phone started to ring hysterically. I was pissed especially because I knew how important the call was, but I couldn’t answer it while on the bike, and under the rain. It was Uncle Ugonna’s call, and I was sure he was calling to know my location at the moment. He had promised to make my birthday a memorable one, and an hour back he had called to tell me to come and take twenty thousand Naira, ‘so at least you can arrange some drinks with your guys’ he had said and then dropped the call.
That money at this moment seemed like the whole Nigerian budget to me. I could swear I had lost touch of such kind of cash, and although I knew he was capable of doing ten times much more than he already did, I decided to accept this with both hands and my legs.
“Young man, where are you?” was the first thing I heard even before the phone reached my ear.
“I’m close to your house sir” I shouted on top of my voice ensuring he heard every bit of what I said.
“Hmmmm…ok…if I don’t see you in the next five minutes, I’m going out, and I would leave with the cash” he hung up immediately the last word dropped.
If there was one thing I knew about my uncle, it was that he never joked with timing, and he meant whatever he said over the phone.
And to ensure I got a happy ending over my uncle’s search for discipline, I tapped the okada-man on his right shoulder, and said loudly, “kai malam, fire this okada!”
And without even letting the words sink into his ears, he responded “yowa mutumina.” He seemed happy and over-joyed after I gave the command, and truthfully, he started to fly. I knew he was over-speeding, I knew it was dangerous considering the weather condition and that it was night, I also knew that if something happens, we both might not be spared; but despite all this knowledge, I still couldn’t stop or slow him down. I needed to get that cash, I needed to party and eat with my friends, I needed to buy a present for myself and most of all, I needed to have cash. All these together made me the biggest fool at that time. I was a fool on my birthday, and yes, even though I now understand the gravity of my actions at that time, I still fail to understand how I survived the crash that came our way less than a minute after I had urged the okada-man to end our existence.
I woke up some days later with all manner of wires penetrating into my skin, and I was bandaged like Lazarus in the tomb. People from all works of life had come to see me in the hospital, but uncle Ugonna. I’d like to think he hasn’t yet heard the unfortunate news his calls brought about. I was crushed and bed-ridden, but I could still swear that I needed that money. People came and stayed and went, but no one’s attention was most needed like that of my assassin Uncle. I looked out for him amongst the dozens that trooped in to offer their heartfelt and warmth pity for me. I didn’t feel any pain, and even if I did, I was so less worried about it, all I still needed was that cash that prompted all this.
*okada - Motorbike for public transportation
yowa mutumina – okay, my friend