As mama untied the edge of her wrapper where she usually kept her money, she squeezed out a wad of old naira notes, and as she set to arrange the notes, she said:
“My son, please when you get to school, make sure you concentrate on your studies, don’t focus your attention on girls,” her rickety voice had the combined tone of a loving mother and a tyrant master. However little the amount she gave me was, I could understand why she was so serious about what she gave me—it was all she had. She made only a meagre from the sale of palm oil at the ugwolawo central market.
This wasn’t the first time mama told me this and often times I had wanted to tell her that even if I had bothered to pay attention to the girls in my school, I didn’t stand a chance with them. The reasons where obvious—the girls were sophisticated while I was rude. They looked nothing like the innocent girls at ugwolawo who threw themselves at me at every slight opportunity, or rather like Ele who tied her wrapper a little over her bosoms exposing the narrow lines between them to the delight of myself, Aduku my friend and the rest of the village youths who wanted some entertainment for their eyes. I could vividly remember the day myself and Aduku sat under the mango tree adjacent to the Ugwolawo River just so we could have a magnificent view of the robust melon balls Ele was endowed with. We observed earnestly her every move and for us, it was a day of unending fun—at least not until the moment when Oja Ametu, a sexagenarian who seemed to derive pleasure from stopping other people’s fun drove us off and even went as far as accusing us of having the propensity to corrupt all the young ones in the community. In my mind I had asked myself, “dis woman sef, wetin be your own, abi you no enjoy yourself wen you dey young?”
“Okay ma,”I said finally and let all the things I would have said dwell in the limitless arena of my thoughts.
“Please, “mama added, “you know you are my only hope and I hope that one day you would shoulder responsibilities .This money might not be much, but please, do make good use of it .Don’t follow bad friends, I heard that some students smoke in the univershiti and that others………..”
“Ah! Enough of the talk,” Baba Ubgede, my late father’s friend interrupted. His voice was unique and easy to decipher as was his body odor—a characteristic stench that has developed overtime from the excessive consumption of kolanut and burukutu which also gave him a unique set of rusted teeth that looked no different from the rusted edges of the zinc that hung over the central bathroom.
“Your son is only going to Zaria and not Amelika, in fact you should be happy you have a son like Arome who even stands to listen to advice from you, unlike my own stupid son Ubgede who only knows how to chase girls up and down. Oh I curse the day I ………..”
“Ele!!!Ojo mi!”mama exclaimed. “Don’t say that please, you don’t throw way the baby with the bath water, “mama cautioned. “Pray for him and one day I believe Ubgede will change, it is only exuberance of youth.”
“When will he change?” Baba Ubgede questioned. “Is it when I am gone to meet with my ancestors?
TO BE CONTINUED.