Fiction: Discredited Angel

February 1, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Celestine Chimummunefenwuanya

 

 

Of a harmattan morning I stood there a few years ago beside the lush, dusty,vibrant frangipani bushes; I was certain my fingers were not on the glistening leaves; I couldn’t point why I stood stiff there with my fingers crossed in my back, perhaps for the singularity of the flower’s morphing pink petals, but I was sure my weak, tired eyes were fixed in the setting sun that would soon begin to burn as the paprika spices. Quickly, like the flapping spinning wings of a crude, tall windmill, an oblong-faced tall, lanky Yoruba boy reached closer like the short nuzzle of an infantry soldier’s Bazzoka to my still side and I felt a rugged push. I felt a radical, violent trudge. So great. So enormous. So wild was the impact that not only did I have a jerk that twirled within the pit of my stomach, a howling unseen swirl of spiteful tsunami twittered my legs off the ground so that not only did I fling my fingers into the ripening sun in the ways of a drowning child, I fell headlong, flat into the ditch of green liquids that collected and bocked like a fat woman’s buttock and felt my mouth oinking as pigs, bellowing as a stepped stag, opening wide and gulping the dirty floods. My emotions yakked like a disported wapiti. I grew feral like a molting nightingale. More downcast than the discredited angel.

I remembered seeing a native boy vaguely running away through the school canteen and a crowd of passionless Yoruba pupils pressing toward and around the horizontal pungent ditch, laughing, gawking, chuckling, cawing and warbling feebly and hissing boisterously just at me. I remembered struggling solitarily in the brimmed ditch. I remembered crushing a dead tsy-fly and a lifeless pregnant luna moth with molted wings among my teeth and vomiting their nauseating, dismembered bones.

The Yoruba pupils that crowded me were mostly growing boys with the native faces with ethnical egos and chests abhorring sentimental hearts that pumped hate underneath them. They smiled. They moaned. They continually laughed. Their laughter was jarring, yanking and prickly. I tried  to swim up. But each stroke my fingers slipped and I went drinking in the ditch; I called to my forbidden soul to render a wee lift; I reported to the divine tripartite for a minuscule raise but as they too were handicapped they were snubs. I felt they were helpless, ignoring me, opening their faceless eyes, droning pitifully at me, telling me they were vulnerable too, needing help much like myself.

It was like a common notion that in some parts of the Nigerian West an ‘Omo ibo’ would have to struggle out alone from a ditch, even in a school like St. Patrick Primary School. I thrashed about in the flood of choking tang. I gulped disgusting, nauseating fluids and finally climbed out. My struggle, the process of climbing out of the stinking mires was a fanfare that provided the pupils an almost infinite exhilarating moment of laughing binge and they so relished every moment with corporeal and taunting audacity.

Swaggering with a lurching pair of miserable red eyes out from the ditch I fell down before the feet of the Yoruba pupils that scornfully laughed and plunged sideways. On the ground, a nap. A very quick sleep. So brief bounded on me. Soon I muttered strength above the sounds of chirring, snarling voices of the ‘same bloods’ of  ‘the united species’ and stood on my feet, albeit feebly. Choking colognes dribbled down with the pungent waters. My school uniform, a wrinkled cyan and a light-green navy-blue was wet with bland vestigial of spirogyra.

The Yoruba boys mostly, definitely gobbled at me but a few Urobo and Tiv pupils had empathy and gorged out of the scene shamefully; the scene so scenic with the ambience of revulsion and wafting ethnic hegemony. I did not have to waste my time asking them of the boy, Kolawole, for I was much aware they wouldn’t indicate him had he not scuttled out to the canteen but stayed among them, so far he was a Yoruba boy. The native boy. The son of the west. The son of the soil. He was one of their bloods; I  knew they would jealously shield and garrison him from an ‘Omo ina’ the uncultured. The son of a swine. Of a derelict. The son of the ‘Ibo man’ doomed to wrath in the west. Garrison him away from my blows, with attitude dotted with chauvinistic sense of egocentrism, with ethnic partition that flowed from the hearts.

I knew he lopped through the rows of fluffing bourgavalia and tulip flowers into the food canteen. I ran into the canteen with a host of native pupils that bleated and howled after me. Native teachers ran after me too, native security officers darted across the lobby. The puffing birds that perched on the window louvers and the eaves of the roofs of Adesina Memorial building chirruped into the air exasperatedly as if they too loathed what Kola did to me just because I was an Igbo boy studying in the West. In the Yoruba land. Performing more brilliantly than most of them in the class. I briskly ran and Auntie Titi busily wobbled after me, calling at me, telling me ‘if I get you, if I get you’. I ignored her. I Snubbed her. I defiled fears. And I headed for the canteen. I ignored laughter, yelling and calling and everybody determinately trailed me like an earthquake.

I bruxed with a smelling wet body into the canteen. I came to  the native plumb woman that sold moi moi, amala with ewedu soup and crook eja kpanla. So bold. So confident. So brutally my voice gonged before her face. I quaked and flamed nervously like the harmattan hummingbirds.

“Ibo lo wa ? Where is he?” I purred, burning

“Tani? Where’s who?” the native woman blew, throwing her ewedu-brew covered gloved fingers to her nose and mouth just to avert my odour.

“The boy that pushed me”  I glowed.

“Onrun. You are smelling. Get out of here” she buzzed whisking me away.

“You hide him, I know. He is Omo Yoruba, you hide him I know. Emo ibi towa.” I growled.

“Lorimi? In my head? In my mouth? In my teeth? Am sure you must be one of these Ibo pikins that spread about West plaguing us with problems and dirtiness” she said. I ignored her, ran through the opened back door. I met a ripple of boys creaking, humming, grunting and arguing some issues in Quran. I felt they would be influenced by the holiness of the Quran, I stood before them.

“A yellow boy ” I screamed, clicking my teeth, quaking, blazing in fury that so looked like the forest ferrets.

“Which yellow boy?” One of the sweaty boys snarled, ignoring me after he dipped his pinky to his nose and palm pressed to his mouth. He too lied I suggested.

“Oloshi buruku. I saw no any yellow boy Omo ina”

“Must you call me Oloshi buruku and Omo ina? Oloshi buruku you too, Omo Yoruba you too”

“Get out” They chorused with the voices that blasted like Jim Reeves.

“And if I did not go?”

“We’ll swat your smelling body for you”

“With this heavy Quran in your hand?” I asked

“Yes, such is called Holy Jihad, the holy war”

“May God forgive you all” I brayed tearfully and ran past them into the next Cinema hall but I saw not the boy. I saw not Kola. The native boy.

In the pool of malodorous and fetid waters bigger Yoruba boys and security officers cut me and took me to the headmaster’s office. I was smelling and was crying before the bold hefty native man’s desk.

“See what he did to me?” I squeaked, soliciting  pity and consideration.

“Who did this? Your fellow Omo Ina”

“No. Yusuf Abudul Kola ”

“Yusuf Kola?”

“Yes sir, he did this to me” I said and he said.

“You this Omo ina, I know you sure offended him so he couldn’t bear it, Yoruba folks are cultured.”

“No sir, I was beside the frangipani blooming bushes watching the rays of the setting sun and he pushed me into that ditch in Obalende Matrix Avenue. I did nothing to him.”

“You lie” he boomed “for constituting noise and uproar in the school am giving you fifteen strokes of whip. The bladey whip made from the hyena’s fur.

“Ha! Because am an Igbo boy? An Eboyian?”

“Whatever” And he gave me fifteen on my buttock, I burned, I booed, I bawled and I drifted into reminiscence.

 

 

After I wept into the school’s fountain lush landscape I washed myself and let my eyes drift into the rigors and odiums I had to face ever since I became a pupil in St. Patrick Primary School. It was in class one that I began to feel hated and disliked by some Yoruban pupils, not because I lugged the faggot of maggots on my head; had a swell of varicose ulcer on my face that convened grunge-legged Luna moths; a rain of putrid ridges on the bridge of my nose that magnetized legions of sooty flies; not because I had the red eyes of a castrated hill dragon that drives and mails hot shells; not because I had heavy durable legs that earthquakes acres upon acres of the western land, I was disliked because I came from Ebonyi, because I was an Igbo boy, speaking Yoruba smoothly with no crooked Igbo accents, and Igbos eat human flesh.

In the first week of the third term in class one Jibike Balogun, who shared a desk with me, jumped up the day Jide Omawunmi whispered into her ear that I was an igbo boy, an omo Ina that feeds on human flesh. She told my best friend that I wolfed human ears into my stomach for breakfast that morning and as I dejectedly strolled through the hallway during the first short break, almost all of the pupils stalked me, observing me in awe as if to capture a glimpse of blood dribbling from a partly-crushed human ear at the side of my mouth, and that day I nearly collapsed.

 

 

Auntie Lekan Titi had just finished her talk on reading the alphabet and walked out when Omawunmu, who had been jealous when I took first position regularly, scuttled to our desk. I greeted her but her snub was evident and when I noticed she came for my seat mate and not for me I focused on what I had to read that morning. After she intoned a thing into Jibike’s ear my friend hopped up and stared at me suspiciously like I had a dismembered rotten bird on my head and he had just seen it, and how her eyes grazed my skin that I almost plummeted.

“Is it true?” he yelled with such hostility like we never played together, like we never swam together in the odo, like we never discussed the coming oro night, like we never expressed how we loathed Agemo day because you must have to stay indoors or your head would be sliced into a blood-filled drum the leader of Agemo carried on his head to Ojude-Oba of the king of Ijebu-ode; “What?” I confusingly asked feeling like a fish in the lake. The eyes of the pupils were all over me and I felt the floor would cave in, collecting me to its depth.

“That you are an igbo boy and you eat human flesh and ate human ear this morning” he said and, as if other pupils had just realized they were at risk and had played and exchanged words and pens with a cannibal, shook like the leaves of a blooming thyme on the perch of a breeze, resting their eyes on me nervously, with a sense of savage; and I felt like death.

“You know I’m an Igbo boy Jibike, my name is Achebe Onyerijuluafor Chichindo. Omawunmi is a liar, the Igbos have a conscience and do not eat human flesh. I sucked pap and Akara this morning. Like seriously Omawunmi, I’d report you for defaming my character and people I belong to.

As I spoke someone stood up to spoil it all. He was Omoba, a very dark boy, called akpoti, because he was a dullard knowing nothing more than make noise and bump about like buzzing bees on the honeycomb of shame, stood up and said:

“Omowunmi o kparo, ooto lon so, Omowunmi is not a liar, she says the truth. My mother said I should be careful the way I deal with the ibo pikins. My mother told me they fled from East to the West because they feared their fellow igbos would use them for lunch or breakfast.”

“What?” I yelled and lost my friends and became the worst enemy of the class. The ringlator chimed the bell and they amazingly stalked me. I reported to the teacher and the response I got from her was better  than had I not met her. She said if I know I eat human flesh truly, I should stop it. And imagine that. And she never said anything when the pupils called me ‘human eater’. I told my parents but they said I shouldn’t fight. And I didn’t fight. For I was aware the igbos do not eat human flesh anywhere in the East of Nigeria. In Enugu, in Ebonyi, in Anambra, in Imo and in Abia.                 `

I rewashed my face and headed indigenously and brutally with the breathing sense of denial and the idea that fairness was dead and buried in the hearts of SOME Yorubans, not all. I repeat not all, great people like Amosun, Adeola and Tunji saw me with a different, noble prism. I was a challenge to them, an igbo boy taking first position every term in the West.

I leapt to the top of a broken wall in the sunshine and sat silently there until I became dry again. As I bent my head I was furious and shame-laden so I didn’t know the time I blurted:

“It is not my fault. Is it my fault I am an Ebonyian and my mother never came from here? Is it a crime to be the son of Igbo parents in the Nigerian West. Some Hausas kill the Igbos in the North and here we will not have rest. What have we done? Is it my fault I wasn’t born in Ibadan, Ogun, Eko and Ondo. Is it my fault I bear Chichindo and not Keyinde, Bolanle, Fatai, Tope, Bukola and Saidi such and such” I hissed and dropped off.

School ended for the day. I hung my school bag and walked home. A few steps into our vast compound walls tears decanted from my eyes. My mother was the first woman to lay her eyes on me before the Yoruba neighbors began to laugh and eek as the conceited peacocks perching on the spine of the elk from the balconies. She quickly grasped me to the warmth of her chest and led me in. I croaked  and told her what happened in the school and she promised to inform my father when he was back from work.

During the nighttime on the dining table, Mother prayed for unity among us and the natives who would always ‘divide and abuse’ us because we are igbos and not descendants of Oduduwa, the progenitor but not the creator of the Nigerian West. My mother prayed for me. She prayed that God should protect me from the sons and daughters of SOME Yorubans, the SOME natives sent to make life distraught for me. She prayed on the food but before we began to clangor the saucers of Jollof rice with orange spoons, my father prayed for the insurgence that loomed heavily in Northern Nigeria. He said ‘God you know what’s wrong, really wrong in Nigeria, you know why some men were angry, the reason may be clear to them and you; I don’t know yet, all I pray is you fix the issues so the Nigerian Government and these vague nebulous, frantic, faceless warriors that throw bombs, crush out the skulls of a new born-baby with a jack knife, disfiguring the lush verdant Nigerian Landscape, come to term with the Federal Government and bury this fratricidal gory war of attrition so Nigeria the Giant of Africa once again roar like the king-lion she had been and stop quaking like a crust that has a monumental lozenge-shaped hollow underneath it.

A little while longer we were right through with the jollof rice that tasted of dodo and sun-burnt coriander, cooked with turmeric spices. The family began to observe the regular section of confession. Spurned by the tribal hitch, framed and sharpened by the fierce fingers of ethnic character. Before this section was observed the family kept a roughened face so the section noticed the family dread it, too holy to be it’s regent, it’s regular keepsake, wishing a change in the status quo cleared it.

Often my mother, the loquacious teacher, would bang her fist heavily on the metal bronze-framed dining table, not excessively so the carafe of ornate base holding a yellow sherbet wouldn’t fall headlong and shatter on the floor, and would come gently with the story of a Yoruba teacher that slapped her face for fairly striking on the palm of a Yoruba boy for abusing a black Igbo boy, that Igbo land and the East is the dirtiest place in Nigeria, in the whole of Africa. (And I had wondered why such anti-unity heritage-defaming of a comment  should be allowed and indoctrinated in the heart of a growing pupil that it formed the basis of appreciation of his fellow beings). And that is why an Igbo man would migrate to Lagos, Ogun, Ibandan and Osun with his family to avert the fangs of malaria, guinea worms, cholera, tranchoma, kwashioko and all other conceivable plagues that threatened life, and now they are here in the West to infest them with their diseases.

And my father, the lover of peace and ardent Pentecostal Christian, would slowly and quietly ask ‘dear I hope you did not retaliate?” of course what he expected, my mother, a moonbeam, an elegance, would let out her tongue, smile indulgently and say ‘Never! It was ignorance that stirred her’. I and my babe sister Akalaugo would sulk and nearly cast our fists toward them. We expected them to always retaliate; this way they would be feared and respected. But no matter what, the family roughed her face against this section when everyone told how he was maltreated, advocated peace and wished to non-violently hoist the placards of Anti-igbo chauvinism in the West skylines.

The clock ticked ten and my mother began. ‘Honey it’s gotten hold of me here’ she said trudging underneath her chin ‘if the headmaster of Bai Primary school is writing against my removal just for not permitting some Yoruba pupils to always strike on the Igbo pupils and insult them for no legal reason, my son for God sake shouldn’t be pushed into a deep ditch by those heartless pupils for no reason, no reason at all.

God is love. God is friendly. My father reached out to her and blew a fresh eddy of breeze to her face. The breeze that smelt of chicken stew, my mother smiled and he said ‘unto this are we Christians, do not be too much upset’ and kindly like an angel. Like God he raised and sang a soothing, sacred hymn with a sonorous strain, read a popular verse from a psalm and touched mama’s lips and then mine as I felt an exhilarating divine entente shrouding my bowl so that I loomed in the fantasy that I would eject balls of Gold than the sticky usual shaffron substance.

“You didn’t retaliate or do you?”

“Father forgive me I tried to?”

“No now, report! I told you that, always report. Can’t you see, the other day those women threatened your mother in the Bowl hole I reported to the Baale”

“Papa you talked like you were new in the west, you talked about Baale, and what response did you get?”

“Reporting pays.”

“Anyway, in the West, some Yoruba teachers hate omo ina. My teacher slapped me for ever mentioning I was pushed by omo Yoruba.

“Then the headmaster?”

“Worst, in my tears, in the mires that filled my body, that wet me, he gave me fifteen strokes” I droned “and I wept terribly father.”

My father dragged out a yellow table, picked his glasses and wore them. Under the silver frames his eyes radiated and dilated,his eyeballs turned orangey and dim so they cast harsh noisome hues, the feeling causing me to be sure my father was planning, planning to do something. My mother picked out the oiled bowls and used cutleries and bent to pick out a few spoons that fell on the floor. When something happened to the point that my mother left the important to do the trivial and my father abandoned the soulful to embrace the secular, like wearing his meager glasses, it was a bad omen that cast me straight to the depth of a solid suspense. My father stood up silently and walked to his room. My mother put out my cardigan and mopped with hot water the spiral, curly, wavy welts on my skin. And I felt the mother’s love overwhelm and overpower the callousness of the natives.

 

 

Morning of the next day dawned and I saw myself standing with my sedate father before the headmaster’s desk and the sitting headmaster that seemed restless for years with his fingers ransacking the Atlas of the Nigeria map.

“Good morning headmaster” my father squealed, though in a relaxed mood. I grew rugged. I grew hard. Feeling I should slap the fat man as if I was sure he’d tribalize the issue again.

“You can see I am busy, how may I help you? If you cant speak up, am busy or you get out” the fat headmaster, Adunlaye Coker Ogbomosho boomed like a bitten bittern.

“We are not quarrelling, headmaster.”

“This man, say what you have to say.”

“My son was pushed into the ditch by a boy called Kola, he reported to you and said you gave him fifteen” my father kindly and slowly chirped, and I burned for such sluggishness, for such gentleness, for the dullness of my father. I wished what some Yorubans needed was a rugged expression and a folk that would brutally twist his words so it was menacing, so it argued it was wrong to be tribalistic anywhere in Nigeria. But my father was a moral coward. Not a coward but a moral coward because he had been a foot artillery army man during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.

The brutal bloody war I had not myself cared to ask him of, for many years I thought the fear, the flights, the bloodiness, the gruesomeness and wildness of such terrific warfare had kept my memory from inquiry. But some days I unlocked my father’s war diary I saw sabon gari how it was the place where the Northern Nigerian armies slaughtered the Biafran escapees and armless or rather ill-trained Biafran soldiers. I saw Abagana written in bold letters, how the place was the place in the East where the Nigerian convoy that conveyed millions of Nigerian war ammunitions were burnt by the ambushed Biafran soldiers. Often I saw and noticed a shallow spiral hollow underneath my father’s hairy ear. The days I wished to know how the scar came to be there were met with a snub. I had asked mother to tell me the root course of the Nigeria-Biafra war, mother had hissed and simply yelled ‘the 1966 coup cursed it’ that was after she had tried to avert my mind from forcing her tongue to explore the war that rendered her an orphan; from dissecting such preening old past archives of gushing blood. She never talked more about the stupendous civil revolution of excessive human massacre that has no match after the monstrous gorilla-exploits of Adolf Hitler in the World wars. And she had not continued the story until the following cryptic days I debunked the detailed accounts of the dreadful events in books, journals, TV and novels.

“And you are here to beat me back?”

“Never” my father said adjusting his glasses like an academia while he had barely gone to school and was a cab or taxi driver.

“I said you have come to strike me thirty I hope so?” the native headmaster bleated.

“I cant do that. Is it fair you beat a small boy pushed into a smelly ditch, fifteen without calling the boy that pushed him? He gulped dirty waters headmaster?”

“Your boy behaved like any other igbo boy and I flogged him.”

“I’ve..ok how do the igbo boys behave?” my father asked him.

“Just like their parents, they loved to be diplomatic, domineering and stubborn in other people’s territory” and now I should agree with the headmaster’s words, must be the basis of the Natives’ hate for the Igbos.

“Am disappointed sir” my father bruxxed.

“Are you here to abuse me?”

“My son said you’ve not seen nor called the Kola Yusuf since yesterday for questioning and now see your judgment. I hate trouble and you know it, several cases of these Yoruba boys maltreating my son I heard and bore with my heart. If you won’t call out Kola so I know what happened, my son is leaving this school.

“We don’t need him anyway.”

“You don’t need my son?, the Federal Government that employed you would not behave this way. Everybody is relevant. President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo will never be happy to know that some Yorubans treat the igbo’s this way. Like they were putrid grapes.”

“Why not go to Abuja and report me. Leave my office with your stupid son.”

“You mean you wont call him?”

“Yes?”

“Why?”

“Leave my office.”

“My son drank things mind you?”

“Igbo man leave my office” the headmaster blasted and we left his office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celestine Chimummunefenwuanya  

Celestine Chimummunefenwuanya, a Nigerian young veteran Photographer, songwriter, organist, poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist and lover of birds and wild animals. A Chelsea fan that enjoys table tennis, football, basketball and frequently romps through woods for scenic animalistic displays. He visits a Nigerian stone mine from which he derives heart-ripping hunches and vibes. African stone mine workers travail in felters of pains and emotional conudrums and he catalogues these in photo-images and as graphically as possible in a new novel ‘Five Fingers’ he currently works on. He’d be happy to share it with an experienced publisher that cares.

1 Comment

  1. Mcdonald Timreyene February 02, at 09:41

    A nice read. I envy the young writer's skill. He has the potential to write well. Thanks for sharing young Chimmu. Its the first time i relished Tuck magazine fiction outputs.

    Reply

Leave a Reply