Fiction: Beyond Price

January 28, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Okeke Okechi

 

 

He’s restive. It’s all over him. His eyes had turned red, spitting flames of despair. Caught in such an act, he was sure of its punishment.

He felt a slight difficulty trying to explain why he loaded the dice.

“Shut up! You’re gone.” Professor Chima, a bespectacled, fair skinned man bellowed at Eze. He was the Head of the Department of History.

Like everyone, Ekene became stupefied by the words of the Prof. He looked at Eze who sat close to him and noticed how he peered into the thin air with a blank face. Ekene drew back his eyes on his booklet. He needed to concentrate because the Prof was not a person that accepted anything, not even abysmal answers. He feared he was writing triviality. Eze’s ordeal seemed to filter through his head umpteen times. He was afraid. What was he afraid of?

Just after the time for the exam elapsed, Ekene came to Eze who was seated on a half broken chair outside the hall. His face looked swollen like ‘ogiri’- fermented melon. He saw the tears that gathered in Eze’s eyes and a letter he held in his hand. It became obvious that Eze was no longer an unfeigned student of Imo State University.

“It’s his fault after all.” Ekene said under his breath. Unlike Ekene, Eze often absented himself from classes and dreaded reading like leprosy. He always came back at night, when Ekene battled with his books, drenched in liquor and wearing the perfume of cigarettes.

Ekene wanted to tell him that it was the end. But he looked at him and said, “I’m afraid I might be expelled too.”

At once Ekene heard his name from a close distance. He was sure of the voice. “See me in my office now!” Professor China said to him.

He became pallid with those words. Eze looked at him listlessly.

“Don’t you think Ekene would soon begin packing his baggage.”

Some of the students already knew Ekene was going to be informed about his expulsion like his friend. They gazed at him with pity.

“But he’s bright and doesn’t cheat” a student said.

“Yes. I’m confused” another student uttered, shook his head and snapped his fingers.

Ekene sauntered towards Professor Chima’s office with an uneasy gait.

He wavered in lukewarm breeze with heavy steps that left indelible footprints on the staircase. Now, he found himself before the Prof who darted his eyes around him. That look was frightening. He felt the numbness in his feet. Depression was already howling around him like a kite hovering around a chick.

Professor Chima pulled out his drawer, brought out a letter coated in white envelope and stretched it to Ekene. The chips were down, he knew. His most dreaded moment was gnawing on him like a ferocious ant that stuck to the butt.

His dreams of becoming a graduate and liberating his family from the shackles of penury, seemed to be stifled.

“Please sir, I didn’t do it.” Ekene’s voice dropped slightly. But he was taken aback by the sudden grin of the Prof. Why did he laugh? Was he aware that Ekene just couldn’t take it?

“You’ve been given a scholarship,” Prof shook his hand, “for your academic performance.” Ekene could not beat what he just heard. Was it a reverie? He pressed his skin fiercely with his fingers. He felt a heavy pain. It wasn’t a dream. He jumped up in great ecstasy.

Professor Chima pulled himself back and grinned at his expression of joy: how he jerked himself up, those innocent tears that tickled down his body. He shook his head.

“After all, the reward for hardworking is beyond price.” Ekene left drunk with delight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okeke Okechi

Okeke Okechi hails from Umuoma in Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area, Imo state, Nigeria. He was born in 1995 and attended University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Alvan Campus) where he studied History and International Studies.

He is a budding playwright, short story writer, novelist and poet. He is working on a collection of short story and his debut novel.

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