My mother often shook her head and said, “No, no, Nathan. Don’t do this to yourself, or laugh. “I think my father loved to hear that in those days. He loved to be caressed, caressed and caressed by his mother, as if he were one of the children. One day I saw my mom feeding him with a spoon, and one day he broke down after Folu, my six-year-old brother, told him that he wanted a bicycle, like the neighbour’s children. The stupid boy didn’t understand why we only ate boiled corn and peanuts for dinner that night.
We lived in an estate, and some of our neighbours also worked at the bank.
It seemed that many of them had seen this. Indeed, it had been rumoured for some time that the bank might close soon. So, in the weeks leading up to the end, I watched as family after the family returned. First Unegbus, who lived behind us, our yards separated by the half-fallen fence my friends and I called the “Wall of China,” won the American visa lottery. I saw how the tempered evil disappeared in America, Mr Unegbu, his wife and their two daughters, one of whom hoped to marry me.
Then, a relative who was a politician gave a contract to Mr Ayo and overnight they got rich. Within two months, that bad smell around their house was gone. They repainted the front wall that was once completely stained – coal, ink, oil, kerosene, egg. And Mr Ayo, who was limping and bending over, started driving a fairly new Toyota Camry, which he parked down the street from our house, as if in spite of his father. There were countless others – Oriyomis, Ajeros, Expos etc.
Dad didn’t give up.
He slipped into poverty as if he were fighting something supernatural, a demon.
In the last days before the bank closed, he went to all the other banks to do his experience. But everyone, once they heard that he had no degree, slammed the door. He made one last effort to get into business.
He sold his car and sold the stock of the Nigerian breweries he bragged about, and threw everything into a fishing business that his friend, the engineer Victor, had started. The deal was repeated three months later, when the engineer’s young son poured kerosene into the large inner pond, killing all the fish.
I swear to God, the night Engineer Victor came to bring news to my father, it was probably the day it all started. I still relive that night in my mind in these seven years.
The cries and grievances in our home were louder than ever in the living memory.
Even after the death of Uncle Thomas, there was no such sorrow. Everything was made by the engineer Victor, a man with a small head, with deep and dark skin, who prospered with gestures that impregnated almost everything with knife animation.
This man got into a fight with his wife and less than a quarter of his father’s contribution to the business.
At first, Dad tried to calm down, gnashing his teeth and looking down, while Mom put her hand under her shirt and rubbed her back lightly, occasionally wiping her own eyes with the rudder of her coat. Things were fine until Engineer Victor fell prostrate on the carpet in the centre of our living room and began singing the cursed and painful Yoruba song that Baba Wande sang in that stupid movie, Ti Oluwa Nile.
I was caught in a thick spider web
I ran, I crawled, to no avail
There is no solution to this great problem
This is a dilemma
The traveller has embarked on a journey that leads nowhere
The farmer cannot reach his farm
This is the strange story of the world
This is a dilemma.
I swear to God you should have heard the way this man sang the song to understand how much he hurt everyone. He dragged the chorus, “This is a dilemma,” except every time he sang it, he cooled down on the line afterwards and went into a whisper so faint that we all thought he had stopped. Then, in a bitter voice, he declared that this situation was “the strange story of the world.”
The reaction was quick. A bush of sighs erupted from my father with force and the sound of laughter. The great rocking of his large body began as if he were dancing slowly. The engineer’s wife shouted; His mother buried her face in her palm, crying; and my brother, Folu, began to cry, and even I, as foolish as I thought the engineer Victor was singing that song, felt my eyes renewed with tears.
Through all this, we would have succeeded.
Dad made at least kobo-kobo out of the construction work he started doing every day. My mother increased this with the proceeds from the supply store in the wooden warehouse in front of our house. And she is, first of all, a stubborn administrator; Give him five loaves of bread and two fish and swear to Almighty God that he can feed more than five thousand people. He grew up in the village, working mainly on the farm.
He did his homework as if it were a hobby. He did not see the absence as a great inconvenience in the way he saw my father.
She saw it as a necessary condition of life. It had to be fought, managed. Maybe because he grew up in the city and had a good job from which he was able to start a family, buy a car and put his two sisters in college, the point of view of his father’s absence became extreme. Poverty was flawless evil, an impenetrable darkness opposite to order.
A person who becomes the host of this evil spirit had only one option: to root it out and throw it into the outer darkness.
We would have kept it. My mother was convinced that we would survive, always telling my father that our situation was bad but manageable. After all, she would say, a crying person can still see. But his father’s vision of poverty led him to the bottom of a pit. After accepting the engineer’s complaints and abandoning – as was customary with us Nigerians – any thought of litigation to recoup his investment, he began to descend into a kind of madness.
One day, he broke into one of the louvres in the living room, trying to kill an insect he had seen flying around.
My brother and I began to avoid him on the advice of Mama, who no longer rubbed her back and fed him, watching him from a distance and talking to her from other rooms. My father was naughty and still had those big arms of his youth, marked with straw veins, although now, with a bulging belly, there was hardly a chest to talk about. It was still intimidating. However, people frequently quarrelled with him.
He will become fully possessed by this darkness that opposed the order – poverty itself.
We all missed him. My clothes didn’t fit anymore, because there was almost nothing to eat. Twice, Uncle Lukeman, his mother’s brother who lived downstairs, sent money. Dad thanked him effusively on the phone, one I couldn’t charge at home now, as NEPA staff installed the power pole in front of our complex and disconnected the electricity from our house due to outstanding bills. My brother was constantly crying with hunger, and my mother almost emptied her store, offering her the snacks she had bought to resell.
One day, my father came home with a serious injury. He had fought with a bus driver for a change of about 50 euros. My father had been stabbed in the stomach with a bottle and had lost a lot of blood. Instead of going to the clinic, he staggered home and fainted. My mother screamed until our neighbour, now the rich Mr Ayo, came to her aid. I took my father, hard work, to the man’s car and took him to Dr Ekezie’s clinic.
He said Dad needed blood.
I’m sure the situation wasn’t as serious as the doctor made her call, shaking her head in agony as if she cared.
He moved his glasses up and down over his eyes, then motioned to the nurse holding a cotton tray, needles, and other supplies to leave the room.
‘You have to get blood from the blood bank, Mrs Akinrele. It’s obligatory.’
“How much will it all be?” My mother asked.
The man pretended to be thoughtful, played with the buttons on his shirt, licked his lips, stared at the ceiling when the fan slowly returned and said, “Probably twenty thousand.
“Ah, maybe!” Cried the mother, her hands raised at the same time as her voice. He danced in agony, withdrew his wrap around his thighs, and confronted the doctor again.
‘Mrs. Akinrele. . . Ma’am, he said all this time, but Mother didn’t seem to hear, saying, “Please, Doctor, please, I’m using my God to pray, please,” as she sank to her knees.
The man took his chance.
He helped my crying mother pick me up as I held my brother in the corner of the room to stop him from crying. The doctor, claiming to want to talk to my mother in private, grabbed her by the waist and led her out of the room. It is difficult to say what happened there or after, because, being their children, my parents would not discuss such things with me. I was only ten at the time, but I wasn’t stupid.
Even a blind man could see that Dr Ekezie had always liked his mother. No one knew why he liked it – a married woman with two children (don’t consider our younger sister who died at three months and a miscarriage).
It must have been her dimples and her beautiful soft brown skin. My mother was also crazy about fashion. In good times, she dressed well. On Sundays, her Asoke and gels always attracted attention. The doctor attended church with his wife, a tall and intimidating woman who was three times older than the doctor and wore large amounts of makeup, spoke in baritone, and never smiled.
The doctor was fat and always wore simple pants, which often stuck between the buttocks. He was constantly taking them out of the yansh. Even as I sat in the church, I could see the doctor watching my mother.
My mother never talked about what happened at the hospital.
Even my father, who was – as he made me understand – the one who was humiliated by what happened, spoke about it only in outbursts of anger. Sometimes, between drinks, he would say, “Your mother fucked Dr Ekezie! Can you imagine? Of course, my father knew what he was doing. He knew he was building a runway that led nowhere. He never went into details. Ask? This would have been seen as the worst insubordination.
So, no, I never asked. Sometimes, when my father felt that I had not listened to him, he would say to me, “You, Saka, do you want to abandon me like your mother and brother, abi? Go, then. See how life will treat you. “He said that in Yoruba, of course, smoking, often without a shirt, but without anyone rubbing his back, comforting him or feeding him.
The doctor forgave the hospital bills, which, if everything was sold in our house, we still wouldn’t be able to pay. The father was treated, given blood, became well and was discharged. When he came home, he asked his mother for days how he got the money to pay the bills. He didn’t seem to want to answer.
One night, after my brother and I went to bed, they started arguing. My mother burst into tears, then began to shout, “Natty! Natty! I heard the living room door slam.
Soon after, my mother ran into our room, woke up my brother and dragged him out into the street. Stay with him, Saka.
Please, okoo me, stay with him. “She threw a shirt at my brother and ran into the house for his things. I followed her into the kitchen, back to her room, where her clothes were strewn across the floor.
However, the real “weird” story is about how my father became rich.
I slept in bed one day after eating the last piece of rice my father had cooked three days earlier when he came home from work dragging the baby with him. It was the dry season and his lips were cracked, his eyes lightly swallowed with blood. I had put my lantern on kerosene because it was almost dark and there was no electricity. At first, he didn’t know what to think, but he was very happy. Did my father win the lottery? Who played Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? How did he swear? He sat in the living room, opening the curtains to reflect the last vestiges of daylight, and bent down to tie a rope around the goat’s neck to a stool. He stretched and yawned as I watched the stupid show with distrust.
“Get me a cup of water, Saka!” He said, sitting down on one of the worn sofas, in his dirty clothes and mud-clad shoes.
When I brought the water, he drank it all, then confronted me.
“Do you see this goat?”
“It is a sacred animal, nkan tutu.” He moved to the edge of the couch as if he were getting up. ‘A powerful Babalawo blessed him at an altar and the ritual process has already begun. So go and get dressed, let’s go.
My father and mother often did such things. Sometimes they talked to me about a subject I didn’t know anything about as if they had already discussed it with me and I knew everything about it. “The ritual process,” he said, for example, and in my head, I would ask, which one? But I didn’t ask questions. I put on a shirt, shorts and sandals. Once I went back to the room, he nodded and said, “Saka, do you know I was once a rich man? Maybe not rich, but OK? ‘
“Yes, father,” I said.
“OK, so you can’t blame me. Look at this my life. I need to change it now. GOOD?’
“Now, listen, my son,” he began to whisper as if there was someone else in the house. ‘We should take this goat around town now, at 6 o’clock, until midnight or until he dies of exhaustion. We don’t have to stop. If I want to urinate, you have to keep going. Same with me. ‘
I was, of course, terrified. The tired images of a goat walking from one end of the city to the other rushed into my head.
I wanted to run, to hide somewhere. But my father had come to this with full confidence and faith. I had testified about his “life,” by which he meant his fall from grace, and he knew he would not forgive me if I did not listen to him now. So, without hesitation, I followed my father on this strange mission of enriching myself through the magical ritual. I had seen many movies at home where people got rich by sacrificing blood.
Maybe once the goat is exhausted, he would fall down and, as he expired, start vomiting money.
Or, I would bring it home, cut it to pieces and harvest the money. It seems that the latter, as my father had no bags to carry the money, in case the goat fell and died on, say, Oyemekun Street, about fifteen miles from our house, or at the Ijapo estate, about twenty miles away. miles away. It was a piece of red cloth around the goat’s neck. She looked dizzy as my father dragged her outside.
We started the journey at our door and passed our neighbour’s house. I wondered what they would think of us, of a father whose life had become so tumultuous. Would they think we were crazy? Or would he suspect that my father had become a ritualist? None of this seemed to the father. I went after him as if I had fastened myself to a rope and stepped on the street with the white goat. People were sitting outside their houses or shops, watching the bad show of my father and me.
The animal seemed to limp next to it as I passed many signs, especially billboards and posters. He was walking along the side of a road paved with small pieces of granite and clay, when the beast made a sound, lifted its tail and threw a pile of dung on the ground. “Oh my God!” My father screamed and turned to me.
I was laughing, my eyes focused on the goat as he continued to walk, another stain of poop that was slowly fading from his pink buttocks, with every forward movement of his calves. As my father turned to me, he had stepped unknowingly into shit. He felt it now with a jolt and raised his leg and, distracted, the rope came off his hand and fell to the ground. The stupid animal jumped and ran as if planning this escape, pulling the rope after it.
I stopped eating and Dad, who had calmed down when the man started the last sentence, broke down and started that stupid rocking motion of his, which only stopped when Mom rubbed her back and stroked him or put food in her mouth.
I don’t know if it was out of shame when I saw my father crying like that in public, or just on my own crazy impulses, but I reached for my father’s back, lifted his shirt, and began to rub my forehead. It seemed to work.
He wiped his eyes with his handkerchief. “I don’t know what to say,” he repeated, shaking hands with the rich man. When the meal was over, my father had been transformed. He had gone from a poor man to not even the middle class, but rich. He would earn twice as much as he had earned at the bank – “plus benefits.” And I, Saka, was the proud owner of some secret money.
Of course, he couldn’t believe it.
To add to his surprise, when we returned home, Mom and Folu were waiting for us. Before she could open her mouth and fall into the old quarrel, Mother said in English, “Don’t even talk about that pointless problem with Ekezie. Please, please, please! Look at you, eh, look at you. If I were here, do you think I would have allowed you to go and watch a goat for a money ritual? Eh? Please, oh, stay calm.
And just like that, like a lamb, my father sat down and never – as far as I know – ever brought up the issue again. Somehow, that evening, my parents reconciled, and my father had left the darkness and entered the light.
As if I hadn’t thought about it over time, it struck me that it all happened because of the goat. Quietly, I burst into a sudden fit of joy. I laughed hysterically until everyone fell silent and began to ask me why I was laughing.
But just before I could tell them, Mom and Folu had joined me. Then I told them and my father laughed too. And between wiping my eyes and fighting to calm down, I shouted, “This is the strange story of the world!”
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