These Homes Keep Calling

by - May 30, 2017

Chronicles of Paulinus

I have a frenzied inclination to home-going, though I’m not a wishy-washy. The stories I heard from my father while sitting in the soft laps of my mother budded such great resentment. I dreaded visiting village – a home deep in the forest of Ideato. The thought of it cracks the egg of emotion I so tenderly tend. I wasn't like this from the start, I cast no slur of blame on myself, I would’ve preferred not to cast any blame at anyone. But life seems to hinge on blames to swing us freely to fresh opportunities.

I think my father harbours a tonne of my blames. His stories are spine-chilling – the scary tales of hunting witches, the juju men that lurked around in the night, the night that welcomed no light in it, the ogene ndi mmuo – ‘gong of the spirit’ that tinkled in the heart of the night; all are the guts-wracking fairy-tale I heard from my father. I had defined such land with words like ‘fetish’ and ‘barbaric’. My father meant well for us, for our safety, but the seed of his well-meaning care had grown to a mahogany of terror in my mind. Whenever someone visited us from the village – as we called our paternal home - my father would always bury his warning stare on us bespeaking with his fierce eyes: “Don't ever take anything from him.” Such fear, such shredded trust, steered every thought of home-going away from my mind that was yet untried in the risks of this life.

 But here I am – in a strange place I would later relate as nearing home – my gaze narrowing under a smelting angry sun in Ama-Edward Juncture, where I wait for a cab to take me to the diresome homeland.

I’ve just been informed that my grandfather – whom I can hardly figure his dignified demeanour with that his debile lolling face that searched for meaning in people's faces. His memory crossed my heart with a slicing cut of anguish. "Ifeanyi you need to come back home, Grandpa is dead." my brother, Ossy, bellowed in the phone when he informed me. His voice that always vested a shrill gaiety was stripped of everything endearing, it was bare and blue. The news was supposed to stencil gloomy wrinkles on my face, but a thought tickled me inwardly – he was eighty-seven. Wasn't it fair that God had to relieve him of those sicknesses that had defiled medical interventions? I swallowed down my swelling breath. After many years, home still calls. I wonder if other people still hear their home calling. I had earlier informed my crazy roommate, Effiong, about this but would rather be consoled unwittingly: "guy sorry o. But na your Grandpa naw so na 'Call to Glory' we go call this one."

The Sun is threatening to bake my blood inside my skin. He seems to be mad at me, maybe this sun in my village wish to teach me some unlearned lessons: always visit home. I don't know why I feel strangely unwelcome. The bus I boarded from Orlu to Arondizuogu had dropped me here like a heap of unwanted bazaar yams. 'Oga na Ama-Edward be this make you take Okada go your village,' the driver's words chiseled into my ears when he dropped me. He spoke with such a bucolic Igbo accent that simply registered in my mind the place I finally am - 'village'.

No cab is coming around. It is now thirty minutes since I stood there like a lost masquerade. It is unusual not to get a taxi in this busy area. The juncture that marries four gully-eaten roads grumbles with piercing cries of sparingly clad children tossed underneath their customer-hunting mothers' stock-piled tables.

The Okadamen that lined in a race-ready array are wheedling me, 'you no fit get taxi for here today, they done go drivers’ meeting.' I need to use alternative means, after all, I’m going home, and I can always get some tips. I’m seriously becoming a miser of recent, I don’t think it pays.

"Hello," I fling my sweat-drenched right arm over the Okadaman that has refused me access to other sounds with his pleading stares and shouts. Three Okadamen are dragging their wobbly bikes with shaky tires, cracking as they drag on – war in business. They are struggling for first attention, who’ll get to me first.

‘But I only called this man?’ I pointed at the man wearing a brown cap. It was once white which has inadvertently assimilated the colour of the streets. The cap roost weakly on his head like a fledging kite. The Okadamen are whispering beyond my earshot: "nwoke ka m bu gi uzo - I came before you" one is roaring. They're struggling, one is neck-tying the other, the other is groping for something on the ground. I still stand there like an inscription watching them. It seems they want to ... oh my ...what ... blood! Now I have to sneak away.

'Hey! Stop there where you dey go?' A stout man with an athletic built body barks from a kiosk. He is approaching me munching the squelched bread he nips between his fingers as if to show me how he will crunch me. His bare chest glitters in the face of the sun. His gait is daunting with a severe mien.

'Eeh… hmm... me?' My heart is drumming in a rookie style. My head accompanies with a jazz.

'Yes! No be you wey cause this fight?’ – his piston-looking hand points at the Okadamen who hunkered down attending to the injured man - 'you must dey here make dem settle and na here you must enter Okada. Na so una go come dey make people dey envy una anytime.'

I have no reason to reply him. He moves toward me, his chest is jogging along with him. He is covering feet toward me, he is standing a foot before me, he inches closer, tuckes me behind him and leaves.  
'Kodo no dey like people dey block him way o,' an Okadaman with a wry neck apprised.

I don't think anybody has the right to tell me how to make my journey. I snob Kodo and walk down to a sloppy road where 'keke' drivers have their own parking lot.

'Oga abeg you fit take me to Nkwo Umualaoma?'
'Haa, na my work na, I know the place. Enter make we go na two hundred naila o.' His shirt is torn to shreds, breathing out toxic odour. It makes me retch but I don’t mind. I need to evade something more deadly.

'No wahala. Shebi you know the place gogo because I -’ something bangs on my head, '- Jesus! My head, my head, my head, isi m o.' I scrunch. Turned. it's Kodo. The stink of terror crease his demeanour. 'I tell you say na there,’ – he points at the okadamen – ‘you go stay take okada and you wan know wetin Kodo fit do abi?' 

His anger smokes through his nostrils bouncing out on his rising-and-falling chest that clamours for a bra. I cup my head with my hand, it is aching. He had just used a piston from one of the women frying akara-aka on my head. Nobody is talking; they are just peeping through their stalls. It's like they're used to this head-smashing brute. I look at my lanky body and his hefty muscular body. No, I can't fight this beast. He seems to be waiting for a physical reply. Is he stupid to think I'll fight him? Surely, this is not cowardice but being wise. The prudent sees danger and runs away - that's Solomon's wisdom. He's my mentor and now I've to practice his principle. Thank God there's a chemist here, I've to treat myself first before I obey this evil-brooding beast: voom ka mma karia statement. 

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  1. "nostrils bouncing out on his rising-and-falling chest that clamours for a bra" this was my favourite part, nice use of imagery through in the story.
    The only problem I had was in respect to the ending it seems unfinished except the plan is to get readers to finish the journey in their heads.
    Yet altogether it was a nice read.

    1. Aww so honoured hearing this from you. Thanks for the review. Grateful.