Despite that I practically lacked nothing materially, I still felt hollow, depleted, empty—so unfulfilled. All things have headed south for me, and that was not a good place to be, to say the very least. I had hoped that at twenty-seven, like Ayotomiwa, I would have gotten a second degree so that I could proceed with doing something meaningful with my life, then get married and raise a family.
“It never occurred to me that I was on a consistent path of slipping into depression subliminally. It’s not a place where anyone wants to be—in between the Devil and the deep blue sea.”
“Why can’t I, like him, be fortunate to have things go my way? I compared. He has everything going on for him; he has even found love. “Here I am, neither particularly loving anyone nor do I have any loving me,” I pondered. The closest friendship I have is with him, of course. It never occurred to me that I was on a consistent path of slipping into depression subliminally. It’s not a place where anyone wants to be—between the Devil and the deep blue sea. It was almost like being surrounded by walls of non-progress—very stifling at best.
I thought of Nathan, my friend. I weighed his option one more time—desperation can really push a man to his wit’s end. His words resonated in my head. “Of what value is a long life when it’s lived in abject poverty? Are you not better off if you would dare to take a few bold steps…? “It was time to go see Nathan and ask one more question about these “bold steps” of his, I assured myself.
Gratefully, I finally escaped the worries and fell into a deep slumber at about 3:49 AM GMT, but only to be woken more frazzled, lacking in desire for anything. So I lay back in the bed till 10:00 AM GMT—two hours after Cookie’s bark woke me. Then it was a few minutes before the hour of eight o’clock when I presume it saw Iyabo. Such times alone, or rare occasions when a stranger walked in, were the only times the dog usually barked. I yawned lazily, cupping my mouth with both palms, and hated—the morning breathe, something.
The milk—more than the drugs I took a few hours ago before going to bed—had left a bad taste and breath in my mouth and a bad morning breath, to say the least. Every yawn was an, “Oh! Boy! What’s that reek? However, despite the feeling of disgust, I was too defeated to clean up and begin my day. So, I lay still, coiled in the blankets. The lights remained turned off. The window blinds unfolded. Even my cell phone did not get treated with a usual fondness—things I ordinarily never failed to do even if I were sick, especially phubbing on my phone. I practically wound up. “Ikenna Obi Okonkwo, o kabukwa ukwu a ka Efi-Nama Ji agaru Aba?” (Does this look like you would eventually get a chance at living?).
On the other end, my mother has not been her usual very understanding self lately—all she drums into my ears has been—get a wife, get married, and make babies! Granted that she showed a great deal of understanding all these years to the fact that I had no job and even made excuses for me in a bid to take pressure off me. But all that has changed; ever since, I deemed it worthy to set aside a token for her from whatever came my way—which were always, and mainly from my hosts’ generosity. I had feared she might misunderstand the gesture. At such, I prayed and hoped she didn’t misinterpret the widow’s mite meant to augment the paltry sum the government paid her monthly for “my son has begun to make money. “But that was what she did.
It was noon soon, and I was still in bed. I appeared to have recovered considerably from the grips of unwritten rules that have steer-guarded my continual stay at the Ajayi’s home. But, on the other hand, maybe the sacredness has started waning in its efficacy. I was reluctant about watering the flowers, wheeling out the trash to the gate, washing the cars, or bathing Cookie. These I have done for as long as I have lived here, and in all honesty, they were just the least I could have done for the Ajayi’s.
It was 1:00 PM GMT— “my gosh, how time flies when you feel like you are in a bottleneck,” still pondering to myself. I didn’t feel any different except for some compelling nudges to visit Nathan. So, I dragged myself up, brushed my teeth, took a quick shower, and got into some clothes. Today, I was a man on a mission to see if I could get some answers and get myself out of the psychological rot I was in, all things being equal. So, I set out to Branamah Island, to Nathan’s place.
“See, my man, we have come far too long a road for me to lie to you; when you taste money, you will know that every split second of this life is super sweet. And you would have been a fool not to do something out of the ordinary, especially when it promises an untampered flow of opulence. So even if it’s for only three years—enjoy it!” He repeated the same lines, just as a thousand other times.
“What’s the use of a thousand wretched years when you can make it shorter but live it out meaningful?” Nathan questioned. “You are my childhood friend Iyk, and that certainly comes with the privileged closeness that not even my wife of ten years enjoys of me,” he said. His last words, to say the least, were true, at such, impactful. I may not have agreed with all he said, but that certainly was not a lie.
Nathan and I have been friends dating back to the years at Junior high school. He wasn’t particularly interested in education beyond its barest basics. However, he managed through to college and stalled. To him, it wasn’t anything else other than a phase in which one has to pause perfunctorily and impatiently ready oneself for an all-out-money-grabbing journey.
He strictly followed up his belief with requisite actions after senior high school. Then luckily for him, death struck as was instructed. He hit it big and has ever since been a template for most youths around where we hailed. Maybe, not in the way it was believed he got his wealth; but certainly, in the way, he took care of himself lavishly and flaunts wealth with a small circle of super-rich friends.
He had been so fortunate in whatever bred him money at such a short time and young age. As a result, he has gotten almost all the things he had mapped out and has now been married with four kids—precisely the things I moisten my lips, hoping to have someday.
“If you sought my opinion, I would have told you that you were too poor to have considered going to school instead. I’m still in shock that you opted for university education; instead of upholding your father’s legacy in business, and I’m not alone in establishing this fact.” He paused to gauge the effect of the mockeries, then ran a hand over his saggy belly, extended it to the scanty and unkempt beards on the jaw, then continued.
He ran through the list of five other of his friends I met a couple of times I visited him, who held the same belief. The credence that the dividends of trade and business supersede the ROI of going to college. He kept on singling his friends out and representing each of them with a finger of his bare left palm, nodding along with the mentioning of their names.
I wasn’t surprised, only mildly disappointed in the names the opinion was attributed. But, of course, they were of the same type anyway. And I mean not just in their level of exposure alone; they were “big boys”—flashy cars, chains of beautiful mistresses, married with kids—living the life, at least in their definition.
“Having you around for all-eternity isn’t a challenge to me, you know it, but I want you to have a taste of life,” he continued to prod. That also was yet another truth. He has always welcomed me, regardless of the gapping gulf in terms of material wealth; showed me salacious hospitality and assured comfort for however long I chose to be around.
He chipped in one incisive mockery aimed at motivating me, after another in between a gulp of a glass full of exotic drink. He then guzzled down another plate of “nkwobi” munched in a most despicable manner, supporting it with another platter of suya, then belched loudly, grotesque at best and a show of no manners and indecency.
He tugged one of the mistresses clinging to his either side indecently and blared out a burst of feigned dry laughter. He then looked around the faces of everyone on the table seeking support and got their mimed approvals. Only I wasn’t sympathetic enough to lend mine, so I maintained an expressionless face, ruminating at the back of my mind, “Why am I even here?”
“Life is good, meeehn!” He howled.
…to be continued.
Watch out for “Near and Dear – Episode X” on Oaekpost.