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Demon on the pew

My typical day in Umuoke was pentagonal not everybody will be willing to live a triangular life. It was often from home to school to church to farm and eventually the football pitch. I was in S.S 2, so you could count me among the big boys, my family was not a rich one but we were happy people.

We were strict Roman catholics, one obligation every member of my family owed on a sunday morning was to attend morning mass and failure to do that was to attract my over-zealous father's wrath.

The new year had just begun and extended family members who had come back to the village during the yuletide period were preparing to go back to the city. Chief Uwaezuoke had promised to take me to the city to learn a trade, he was one of the biggest philanthropist in Umuoke. I was supposed to be his apprentice for seven years then get settled with capital to start my own business. It was the most unfair thing my father ever did to me, he would have allowed me to finish secondary school but he insisted that the opportunity was golden and should not be missed.

The previous night I heard my mother pleading on my behalf, "Nna hapu nu ya, let him finish class 6"
"Woman, Mma nwoke bu ego..... the beauty of a man is money, I am poor and no son of mine will be like me" he told her blatantly.

"Its just for one year", mama pressed on.

"My decision is final, what if Chief decides not to take him by next year? He must go".
My father was the emperor in our empire and my verdict had been given.

The next day I had my Ghana-must-go packed, soon Chief arrived in his Toyota Sequoia to pick me. I had never been away from home not even for a night, I felt nostalgic, ready to cry and numb like I was leaving behind the very essence of my living. The comfort of the SUV didn't even entice me enough to enjoy the ride, I thought about my masquerade group, my football team,mother and my precious Nma. Nma like her name implied was an epitome of beauty,I knew she liked me just as much as I liked her because of the angelic smile she constantly flashed at me.

Soon we were at onitsha, crossing over the magnificient bridge, I clutched my rosary with all my strenght and begged God not to allow us fall into the blue coloured Niger, the thought of the possible occupants of the river like sharks and the popular 'mammy water' sent jitters down my spine. Chief instructed the driver to stop at a restaurant along a place he called 'Ore'. We had a sumptuous meal of rice, chicken and soft drinks, few minutes later, we continued our journey. It was like a journey to nowhere probably like the Gulliver's travels which the English teacher had talked about.

Hours later, we arrived Lagos. Chief's house in the village was a toy compared to where he lived in Lagos. He had a duplex to himself and his family while his 'boys' lived in the boys quarters. He was extremely kind and generous, he had five beautiful daughters and an imbecile son. Stories in the village have it that his son contacted a complicated form of jaundice while others said it was envious business partners that had decided to render his only son useless.

Soon I mastered the trade and was doing extremely well. The customers called me 'Smally', I was the smallest of the four of us. The shop was filled to the brim with electrical appliances and we made sales than any other shop.

That afternoon, Oyibo the most senior apprentice came in after sending a bulk of goods to a customer based in Kano, he complained about having an headache. He was looking quite red, he could pass for an albino despite he was not one. He took two pills of paracetamol to stop the headache, maybe that was his crime. Soon he started laughing hysterically, scattering all the goods in the shop, he danced in circles, tearing his clothes in shreds till he was stark naked. It took the intervention of Chief to calm him down, he was eventually taken back to the village. He was raving mad and our boss told us in confidence that he got information that he had been smoking Indian hemp.

The feeling of Oyibo leaving made me sick, I yearned to go back to the village where everything seemed simple but beautiful. I was deeply in though when I heard

"Dubem, didn't you hear me scream your name?" yelled Ifeoma.

 She was Chief's youngest daughter and the most lousy.

"I didn't", I replied innocently.

"Dumb ass, go and place a chair for me in the garden", she ordered.

"Am busy", I lied

"Lazy lying fool, go and do as I said", she insisted.

He cleared his throat "Ifeoma, leave there immediately and do whatever it is yourself", it was Chief's voice.

He walked with his hands behind his back and his red cap sitting comfortably on his bald head.

"Am sorry,sir!" I apologized.

He patted me on the shoulder, "You need not apologise, I had been listening to both of you all the while".

Chief stood for justice, he was a pious and devoted Roman catholic perhaps that was why he was nominated to be the patron of the St. Micheal's committee.

In the evening, I went to the main building to carry our dinner then I bumped into my arch-enemy, Ifeoma. She offered to help me carry one of the plates, I was stupefied, I was only wondering if she had just heard a sermon from her peace-loving father. When we got to the corridor leading to the exit door, she planted a warm kiss on my lips and slid a paper in my pocket. I was dazed, the thought never left my head, I kept imagining what would have happened if the kiss had lingered.

I slept with the thought in my heart and my hand on my crouch, I woke up in the middle of the night and had a flashback of the occurence, the thoughts of Nma tried to drown the thoughts but lust tugged and clawed on my hairy chest. I decided to end it, I tiptoed to the toilet so as not to wake Ebuka sleeping next to me, the note read:

Dubem, I have always wanted you but you would never look at me. That is why I have been mad at you. I love you, Dubem!

My heart doubled it's beat, I imagined her saying "I love you, Dubem" and replanting that warm kiss, I closed my eyes and unzipped my fly then I saw a light flash across the toilet tiles.

It wasn't a flashlight, it was fire from a calabash. The figure wielding the calabash was tying a red wrapper around his waist with a palm frond tightly held in between his lips. The figure danced and wriggled like a mermadian spirit, I had to clean my eyes and slap myself to be sure it was reality. I climbed the toilet seat to have a better view through the window, I felt fear nibble on the jellyfish I called my legs as urine trickled down my shorts, he turned around like a possessed maniac and I ducked.

The thought of what to do was not forth-coming, I peeped once more and I saw the figure perfectly well, it was Chief Uwaezuoke. What the hell was he doing?
I tried to scream but my voice froze, he blew a substance in the air, I ran out of the toilet to wake Ebuka but he was jerking and convulsing, I felt a wave hit me and I passed out.

I woke up after two days in a hospital to the news that Ebuka had acute malaria and had taken the route to the stress-less country.

"It is a pity", my father said ignorantly as he fanned himself with the invitation card to Chief Uwaezuoke's installation as a knight of saint Mulumba slated in a forth-night.

Who would be next?, I muttered.


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