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Near and Dear – Episode I

Near and Dear is a fictional story of Ikenna Obi Okonkwo, a college graduate who neglected the opportunities of picking up usable skills alongside academics while in college in Nigeria—where a college degree alone no longer makes the bold promise of placing food on the table. His graduation was an awakening to the ugly realities of societal difficulties. Could he ever get a chance at life, save a miracle of some sort happened? Clenching tenaciously to reverence, honor, morals, values, and persistence, he caught a break via newfound relationships, love, and lessons as he began to breathe a new air of success and relief. You want to know more, follow along.

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I came home knackered after the hustle and bustle of the day. However, it was comforting to record an end to a day that assured another barren expedition, like the one led by Captain Sir John Franklin, who departed England in 1845 aboard HMS Erebus and HMS Terror to traverse the then unnavigated sections of the Northwest Passage of Canada and came to no fruition. I was so exhausted bodily that I could barely raise an arm and so drained mentally that I couldn’t be good in any use—I was spent.

“But do I not want other things too, of which a meal is fast becoming the least: Do I not want…no, deserve a job, a life or need some good sleep uninduced?”

I trudged in, laboriously unlocked, and locked the door behind me—mooched upstairs and straight into the bed. Sprawled facing the ceiling, I then tried desperately to re-enact the day’s events before making plans for the next day. Lastly, I attempted to form opinions on few things that were randomly and loosely trapped in my mind before sleeping.

Contrarily, I had only replayed the part of the clip that had my answers at the interview when my squinting eyes caught a glimpse of the ticking clock hanging precariously on the wall above the doorpost. It was 11:20 PM.

“It soothes to see that at least something is progressive around me, although its cascade to infinity unfolds fresh anguish and despair,” I lamented almost absent-mindedly.

Time ticking and progressive. Make hay while the sun still shines.

I abandoned the thought to make a mental note of things that I must take along the next day for the interview slated for 8 AM. I had only chosen my garb for the interview when I dozed off instead; in the clothes, I had worn out, although that was not before I slacked the tie off my neck. It was labor; it birthed a relief in the end.

“If only life would choose to offer me some too.” I lamented again.

I have never known myself to sleep most of the night whenever I have something unusual coming up for me. It was 3 AM, and something woke me up, even though I hadn’t gone to bed early, nor did I have a good rest. My intestine churned first and then mumbled angrily.

“But do I not want other things too, of which a meal is fast becoming the least: Do I not want…no, deserve a job, a life or need some good sleep uninduced?” I entertained these thoughts, ignoring the hunger. Immediately, myriads of wants that had been lying fallow; filed out and scrambled for prominence on the rumbling turfs of my musing mind. I did the best I could attending to those eminently qualified to be in the file, fought tirelessly to evict the rest, then luckily, nature conquered me again.

Dream state: The avenue where many things are birthed. Peeling away the layers of his flawless skin lies the perfection of his being.

Suddenly, I jolted up from the bed, gawked at the clock—it was almost 5 AM. I rushed into the shower—there was going to be heavy traffic to beat on my route. Therefore, unlike other days, I didn’t make the prayers lengthy. If what I did could even qualify for one—I didn’t even kneel by the foot of the bed to run through a prescheduled mental list of my many ‘I want’ nor recite the creeds as usual.

Instead, I mimed my petitions hurriedly and inaudibly. I punctuated it with the sign-of-the-cross. In the process, I was already on my way to the bathroom, 12-foot away from my bed. The prayer I prayed this morning was almost synonymous with the “plus-Jesus minus-Satan,” many people hurriedly pray when they want to pounce on a sweet and salubrious meal that they are drooling over.

With my phone in hand, I flipped through and selected a gospel album, hit the play button, then carefully placed it back on a storage cart glued to the bathroom wall, whose other half was a mirror. Divested, I turned on the shower and submitted my body to cold drips that ran their hands down the length of my peeled body—my daily ablution—the inception of my quotidian ritual to wake me up as I start my day—clean, fresh, and clinical. 

“…my daily ablution—the inception of my quotidian ritual to wake me up as I start my day.”

I stood still in it, head bent and both hands on the wall, voluntarily allowing the freshness of the water to permeate my body—perhaps it might do me some good. Subliminally, my mind drifted to notes it made last night and earlier this morning in readiness for the day. It checked for loopholes, and I was sure it didn’t find any.

“Academically, I have been qualified. I graduated top of my class, besides bagging first-class honors. I have invested heavily in developing other aspects of my personality, too. I improved my existing skillset and acquired new ones too. I have consciously built-in a winner mindset; time management had been in the bag too. So, where have I gotten things wrong?” My mind drifted further into the depths of muse and reason.

“Have I not also consciously learned how people of where I wished my class should fall walk and talk? Have I not perfected their carriage and my accent…appreciably British? I have also gotten myself a nice wardrobe, and I make it a duty to smell good. I tried to carry the appropriate disposition as demanded by environments, but it still beats me how I can’t hold down a job”.

“More and many more thoughts continued the invasion of my sanity…”

More and many more thoughts continued the invasion of my sanity, the same way it did the night before and the nights before it. While I stood in the shower, lost in retrospection, the alarm blared out what remained of my life, a potent reminder that it was 6 AM and that I had to get going. “God, let this cup pass over me,” I muttered prayerfully.

I turned off the splattering sound, drew a towel hanging on top of the bathroom door, vigorously ran it over my clean shove hair, and wrapped it around my waist. I then quickly walked to the wardrobe, whistling absentmindedly to the serenading gospel tunes filtering out from the cell phone.

I returned to the bedroom and the wardrobe, hauled down the suit bag, removed the jacket from the hanger to bear a sparkling white shirt and a blood-red tie neatly knotted and buried beneath the suit jacket. Déjà Vu! “This special set of fine dress now represents pains. A deck for special occasions it remains, but its class has done nothing to assuage the pains of unproductivity and suffering.” I thought despairingly. The sight of these clothes depicts hardship now. It reeks of struggles and stagnation.

“Iyke, it’s not the outfit…blame the system.”

“Iyke, it’s not the outfit…blame the system. Blame the system where leaders are elected to public offices to serve the people, but rather serve their pockets. Iyke, it’s not the outfit…blame the metastasizing cancer of corruption that has mortified our society. Blame the body politic of which its leadership deliberately rams us into the iceberg of non-progress as we sink like the Titanic down into the Davy Jones locker of despondency. Iyke, it’s not the outfit… I blame youmyself, for not weathering the mountain and creating something for yourself.” A voice of thought whispered.

“Iyke, it’s not the outfit…blame the system. Blame the system where leaders are elected to public offices to serve the people, but rather serve their pockets.

I tore my mind away from the guilt that resulted from the accusation, managed, and dressed up, left for the interview about two hours before the slated time. Expectedly, I arrived in Iluja for the exercise over an hour ahead of the time. The traffic hadn’t been as heavy as I had previously anticipated—thank God. Iluja was a part of this city I knew so well. I had visited on so many occasions over my four years of stay in Nigeria’s Western region. Perhaps it was the place I knew the most in the entire city, only after Emperor Island.

…to be continued.

Watch out for “Near and Dear – Episode II” on Oaekpost.

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Caleb Ogbonna Onwe is a guest contributor of Oaekpost LLC, a US-based online media company. He is a seasoned on-air personality, a communication expert, an entrepreneur, and a writer specializing in the prose genre. He recreates experiences using fictional tales in the hope to impact, alter and influence character positively. His area of specialty on Oaekpost are the categories, Fiction and Good News. You can reach him at cogb.onwe.gc@oaekpost.com.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Josiah Ogbonnaya Nwafor

    March 15, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    Nice one, Onwe. Keep up the good work

    • Caleb Onwe Ogbonna

      March 17, 2021 at 3:09 pm

      Thanks and may God bless you sir.

  2. Ani Chijioke

    March 17, 2021 at 12:08 am

    Survival in the system requires one to be blind to it because only the blind can see the system’s reality.

    • Caleb Onwe Ogbonna

      March 17, 2021 at 3:11 pm

      Wow!
      What an irony sir!
      One has to be blind to see this one. Interesting!

  3. SirBen

    March 19, 2021 at 1:24 am

    This is a good read; the captivating effect is welcome. I await the rest of the episodes.

    • Caleb Onwe Ogbonna

      May 10, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      Thank you Ben.
      The other episodes are here already.

  4. Patience Okorie

    March 31, 2021 at 1:38 am

    Well articulated piece. Great job

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