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Near and Dear – Episode VI

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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Laboriously, I stood, my head waved in a manner the flag would to the influence of rushing wind. Forty stars queued and exited in a rush one after another from my eyes like a military phalanx singing, “Oh, the grand old Duke of York; He had ten thousand men; He marched them up to the top of the hill; And he marched them down again.” Each one that left took a measure of my strength with it. I was drained-sapped. I contacted the marbled wall with arms hinged at their elbows and inclined my head on it for a moment. I felt depleted and sick as I cleaned myself up. 

“Omg! But I covered my tracks well. Or rather, I believed she was too engrossed to notice.” Oh well, I guess I was wrong with my assumptions.”

I walked up to the sink. Looked at my flushed and sweaty face in the mirror. I looked like I had taken a couple of knock-out punches from the great Iron Mike Tyson. I then subjected my hands to a stringent ablution with the sink’s scented hand soap and water. I did my best to freshen the air with the Febreze air fresher on the windowsill—like that would help any to eliminate the nefarious odor of the biological and chemical waste products. I even wondered if I was a human being or a science experiment. 

“I then subjected my hands to a stringent ablution with the sink’s scented hand soap and water.”

I wobbled out, locked the door behind me, and took the keys. That was to forestall any entrant until the place became usable again. There is no saying what would happen to anyone who entered into that restroom after what I did in there should I have left it open. As far as Ikenna Obi Okonkwo is concerned, that edict to keep that lavatory room closed has been signed, sealed, and delivered. I wouldn’t want to have a suffocation emergency on my hand. That would also be the shaming for the history books. 

I mouthed a prayer that she should not have any need to use the lavatory—unless she would be willing to go to the one upstairs. I got back to the living room feeling a bit relieved, but far from recovering, still drained of confidence. “What in the world got into me to ingest all that I did that triggered the nasty biological reaction in me?” I pondered. It was just five minutes before the teams would go for break time and perhaps a possible three added minutes, making it eight.

“I mouthed a prayer that she should not have any need to use the lavatory…”

Since I was not sure the “witch” would be leaving after the whistle for the break, I quickly seized the eight minutes to psyche myself up for possible eventualities— the interrogations that may ensue. Although I was sure, she was too engrossed to notice my absence from the room while I was gone for a bit.

The referee blew the whistle for the half-time break, and for the first time since she came in, she took her gaze off the TV. She then went forward and killed off whatever remained of me with a stern and wooden “What’s wrong with you?” Looking at me intently with no expression, I could reckon.

“The referee blew the whistle for the half-time break…”

“Omg! But I covered my tracks well. Or rather, I believed she was too engrossed to notice.” Oh well, I guess I was wrong with my assumptions. “I, I… I am alright now,” I stuttered. My tone was quivery, shaking as a reed tossed about the many waves of the sea. “Hey, relax, I know that feeling,” to say the least. Now, that was somewhat comforting. More so, I didn’t think Iyabo had it in her to lend her sympathy, although her face was still expressionless at most.

Then came a tap on the door—I searched her face for a possible lead to knowing if she was expecting anyone. She connected but looked away as soon as she did. With a great effort, I made to stand and attend to the door. Iyabo suggested I should not bother. She got talking into the phone as soon as the last word directed at me escaped her lips. I regretted trying to get up because falling was undoubtedly a given at this point. I became grateful she didn’t allow me to.

“The door is open!”

“The door is open!” She howled. A middle-aged man whom I was very sure I never met anywhere walked in, carrying a side bag. The beads of sweat had matured into a free-flowing river, running down my body and made the T-shirt I wore glue tightly to my skin. I attempted to predict who the man might be after I ran a sustained glance at him. It was pretty tricky and elusive. I gave up. I was too battered to try again, both bodily and emotionally.

Iyabo stood, walked to the passage to warmly welcome him. Just like she did while speaking with Mr. Zach the day she arrived home. She bowed, touching her toes in obeisance amidst elaborate smiles and other sundry pleasantries. A “Welcome Sir” that capped the exchange was all I could pick from a handful of other things she ranted in the language of the West.

“Iyabo stood, walked to the passage to warmly welcome him.”

“Ikenna, this is Dr. Tobi Makinde, our family physician,” glancing in my direction, vacuous at best. “Sir, this is Ikenna—my friend,” she said with nonchalance as she quickly looked in the direction of Dr. Makinde. “My friend…?” Did I hear her refer to me as a friend? Did she even cast a reckless glance at me to know how I was taking the impact of that shock “my friend?” No! “This girl is crazy,” I concluded, pondering in quick successions to myself like bullets screaming as they launch out the nozzles of an AK-47.

“Nice to meet you, Ikenna,” expressed Dr. Makinde as he extended an arm which I took perfunctorily and tilted my head in reciprocation of his gesture. But it was instead, too fast that it appeared more like a nod than a bow. Dr. Makinde’s production of the name Ikenna was, at its best, a travesty. He made it sound more like a bastardized version— ‘íkènna,’ which would mean ‘father’s buttocks,’ rather than ‘íkénna,’ meaning God’s strength, its actual meaning in the language of the naming.

“Nice to meet you, Ikenna,” expressed Dr. Makinde as he extended an arm which I took perfunctorily and tilted my head in reciprocation of his gesture.”

In a short while of getting acquainted with her, I have never heard Iyabo call the full name—Ikenna like she just did. “What happened to the ‘Iyk’ she called me…why the sudden formality?” I questioned myself. “He ingested a cup of boiled water, sir,” she accentuated in English, well-polished pointing at me, then switched and ranted the rest of their conversation in the language of her people. I would guess she must be telling the doctor that she does not know what got into him to have done such.

The physician, who was still standing, nodded intermittently to assure her of his understanding of my condition. When she finished, the man painstakingly laid his bag on the center table, unzipped it, and took out a few medical tools. He swung into action. He ran a check on my pulse, listened to the heartbeats, viewed the color of my eyeballs and that of the palms and fingernails, then got on with prescriptions after he exhausted a host of routine questions and viewing of the gullet. He finished with some instructions, “drink that twice daily and take the tablets I wrote down as prescribed. You will be fine in a few days.” He took his leave.

“He finished with some instructions, “drink that twice daily and take the tablets I wrote down as prescribed. You will be fine in a few days.”

By ‘that’ he said, he had referred to a marine-blue color gelatinous liquid, believed to have the potency to soothe the burnt larynx. Dr. Makinde obviously came prepared with the correct prescription in place. It seems like Iyabo had given him the load down of what happened before he even arrived. Iyabo walked him to the door, returned, took the prescription, flashed a glance at the carelessly inscribed note, motioned me to stand with a flickered index finger, and headed to the door.

I obeyed, felt very stupid but followed her anyway. “What’s it with this girl, so bossy,” I shrugged disdainfully. As I stepped out of the apartment, I stared at her as she walked into the main house. If anyone were looking at me as I looked, with my hands folded and my right hand on my chin, they would say I was checking her out as she walked. I headed to the corner where I sun-dried my clothes. I picked and quickly got into a shirt I had left behind on the line earlier because it had not dried properly.

“A few moments soon, she would reappear, dressed in a pair of black jogging shorts and a sky blue sweatshirt…”

“If anyone were looking at me as I looked, with my hands folded and my right hand on my chin, they would say I was checking her out as she walked.”

A few moments soon, she would reappear, dressed in a pair of black jogging shorts and a sky blue sweatshirt with a bold shiny inscription ‘Paris’ blazoned on the back of her sweatshirt. Her navel slightly showed—she looked like an absolute doll. Beautiful would be an understatement. The write-up on her back blended in with the color of her shoes, which was itself, of a light black background. Then, a white beret cap shifted towards her right hand, a night-black Gucci glasses, and she was done.

…to be continued.

Watch out for Near and Dear – Episode VII 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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