POSTED 01/18/2018 13:59
Obinna’s lifelong dream had been to one day become a medical doctor. As a child, the first thing that drew his heart to the profession was the white coat and eyeglasses donned by the doctor that examined him at the medical centre when he was taken there by his mother because of a fever which could not be stopped by Paracetamol, which she usually gave him and his kid sister whenever they were running temperature.
Another thing that really took him was the doctor’s warmth and the smile that was permanently on his face as he laid him stretched on that slim bed and examined him before prescribing some drugs, which eventually stopped the fever for a very long time.
As he grew up, he got to know more about the profession’s descriptions, all of which spelt ‘life-saving’. He also got to find out the demands, which he narrowed down to passion, courage, determination and hard work. He felt within him that all these qualities were inborn within him and that he could actually live his dream if he worked hard at school.
His parents were barely struggling to make ends meet; however, they kept encouraging him along the line of his dream. They provided for him and his sister to the best of their abilities, while keeping hope alive that things would certainly change for good. Even though he was not exceptional, he worked so hard at school and remained within the top range in his class all through the primary and secondary schools.
Then the first tragedy struck. He had just returned from school with his sister and they were both having their lunch, when the news came that their father had been knocked down and ran over by a car and he died instantly. Their mother couldn’t bear the shock, as she collapsed in a faint, hitting her head on the edge of the bed as she fell. She died two days later in the hospital.
Obinna could vividly remember the conversation he had with his father the night before the accident.
“My son, do not lose hope,” his father had said.
“I won’t lose hope, father,” he had replied.
“No matter what, keep your eyes on your target. Do not derail or let anything distract you. You should make me proud in your forthcoming exam.”
“I will never disappoint you, father. I will make you proud of me.”
“And I will make sure you go to the university and become the medical doctor of your dream.”
Obinna was nearly eighteen, while Chidinma was fifteen, when their parents died, and Obinna was just two months away from writing the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination. He was badly hit by the twin sad events, but managed to pull himself together quickly enough in order to be able to take care of his sister and also write the exam. And he came out with a good result.
No family member could come to their aid after the deaths of their parents, so Obinna took total responsibility for himself and Chidinma, who found it hard to overcome the shock of losing both her parents in such quick succession. Before long, their rent payment was overdue and the hardhearted landlord threw them out. That was the only home they knew and Obinna had wanted to maintain it after the deaths of their parents. But the landlord would not give him more time to look for the money for the payment of the rent. If their parents had once taken them to their village of origin, they would not have hesitated to go back to their people.
Obinna did not want to be a burden to anybody, but he had to make sure his sister was safe and comfortable. He pleaded with one of their neighbours whom he trusted to take in Chidinma, while he went out to look for a job. He assured Chidinma that he was going to work hard to raise some money, rent another place and come back to take her with him. He also promised to ensure that she went back to school as soon as possible. Then he went out on the street.
During the day, he did all sorts of menial jobs, including working as a conductor of commercial buses, carrying loads for people, washing people’s cars and hawking different wares around the city of Aba. He passed the nights in open places, including schools, shacks and unfinished buildings. However, he made it a point of duty to visit Chidinma every two days and made sure she lacked nothing. He also gave her the money he made for safe keep. Chidinma was always cheerful whenever he visited her, until one occasion, when he met her looking downcast.
“Chidinma, is anything the matter?” he asked with concern.
She was reluctant to tell him what was bothering her, but he pressurized her until she opened up.
“It’s Uwakwe,” she replied. He asked me to sleep with him, but I refused. He continued pestering me, so I reported him to his mother. When his mother confronted him about it, he denied. Now they are all against me, saying that I lied against Uwakwe and that I want to destroy their family.”
Uwakwe was the second son of the woman Chidinma was staying with, and a year older than Obinna. If it was someone else that told him what Chidinma just told him, he would not have believed it, because Uwakwe was such a quiet and gentle person. But Obinna knew Chidinma very well and so could not bring himself to doubting the sincerity of her complaint.
Obinna made up his mind to quickly look for an accommodation and told Chidinma so, since the money they had saved up would be enough to pay for the rent. He asked some of his friends to assist him in looking for a room and in less than a week, three places were shown to him. He chose one of them and paid the rent.
It was a newly built house, and they were just the second tenants to move into it. Even though it felt lonely when Obinna was not around, Chidinma felt more comfortable in their new home. At least, she didn’t have Uwakwe pestering her and nobody was accusing her of trying to destroy their family.
Having got a place of his own, Obinna made it a point of duty to come back home early. One of the reasons was to keep Chidinma company. Another reason was to cut down on the extra expenses he incurred from hanging out with friends. He returned home one evening with the books he had bought, in preparatory for Chidinma’s resumption of school the following week, only to find Chidinma lying on the floor, unconscious, with her clothes torn. She had been sexually assaulted. He had always avoided seeing his sister’s nakedness, but he couldn’t help it now, and the bloody sight before him was really heart-rending. Relieved that she was still alive, he quickly got help and rushed her to the hospital. When she regained consciousness, Chidinma narrated her ordeal in the hands of the three boys that invaded the lonely compound, assaulted and gang-raped her.
Four days later, Chidinma was discharged from the hospital. Obinna quickly had her resume school, as it would make her no to spend the entire day lonely in the compound.
About a month later, Chidinma started having some strange feelings in her body. Obinna took her back to the hospital, where she was confirmed to be pregnant. Chidinma wept her eyes out when she was told about it. Obinna kept blaming himself for not being there for his sister when she needed him most. Not only had chidinma been sexually assaulted, but also she had been put in the family way by unknown people. If he had been there with her, the rapists would not have had their way.
Chidinma insisted that she was not going to give birth to a bastard. Some of Obinna’s friends advised him to have the pregnancy terminated, but he did not want to have his hands soiled with blood, neither would he allow his sister do same. He took good care of Chidinma until she was due for delivery.
On the day of her delivery, Chidinma was unable to deliver the baby normally. In the process of delivering her through a caesarean section, Chidinma died. The child survived the operation, also died three days later. Obinna checked his records and sadly discovered that Chidinma’s death had come exactly sixteen months and eighteen days short of two years after the tragic deaths of their parents. He was inconsolable and never ceased to mourn those three significant deaths.
Obinna’s hope of ever making it in life was dimmed but not totally quenched by those tragic deaths. However, he pledged to work hard and ensure that he became a success, so that he could immortalize the names of the people he loved so dearly.
Obinna later got Admission to the State Polytechnic to study computer science. He worked so hard to sponsor himself, since he could not get help from anywhere else. He got his Ordinary Level Diploma after two years and continued studying for the Higher National Diploma. Along the line, in his final year, he suddenly took ill. His illness was so serious that he could no longer work to support himself. He could no longer meet up with the demands of his schooling, as the administration had put up stringent rules that students must pay their fees upfront. He dropped out of school and was later thrown out by his landlord. No father. No mother. No sister. No home of his own. No good health!
He moved in with a friend who agreed to accommodate him for a while. However, he kept wondering why all those calamities had befallen him. He kept asking himself why, but couldn’t come up with an answer. At a point, when he was fully back to health, he decided to stop living in self-pity, but to go look for a job. He was ready to do any kind of job, provided it did not involve crime.
After four days of futile search for a job, he finally found one. When he saw the ‘Salesboy or Salesgirl Wanted’ advert displayed in front of a shop, he did not hesitate to go for it. After a brief oral interview, the owner of the shop asked him to come back the following day. He went home praying fervently that he will be given the job.
After hearing about Obinna’s entire life’s story the following day, the owner of the shop was visibly moved with compassion.
“The job is yours, and your monthly salary will be ten thousand naira,” the owner of the shop told him.
“Oh, my God!” Obinna exclaimed in pleasant surprise. He had thought that the man, knowing about his past ordeal, would tag him a bad omen and deny him the job, but the reverse turned out to be the case. “Thank you very much, sir. God will continue to bless you.”
“You are welcome. If you remain a good boy, you will never regret working with me.”
“I will never disappoint you, sir.”
Chief Okesi, the owner of the shop, was a well-known figure in Aba, especially in Ariaria International Market. Rumours were rife that he was diabolic and had made his money through dubious means. But those were overshadowed by his generosity and philanthropy, for he had many surviving through his public benevolence.
So Obinna started working. Two weeks later, Chief Okesi offered Obinna accommodation in his own house, which Obinna gratefully accepted. Initially, he wondered why Chief Okesi was living in such a mighty duplex all alone, but the man, seeming to read his mind, explained that his family was living abroad and only visited occasionally, especially during Christmas. So he relaxed, thanking God for the turn of events in his favour.
Obinna was faithful to the core. He served Chief Okesi with all diligence and made wonderful accounts for him, such that Chief Okesi openly voiced his appreciation for Obinna’s efforts. However, Obinna did not know that danger lurked in the corner.
One night, Obinna had a terrible nightmare, where somebody wanted to stab him with a knife. He woke up and prayed seriously over it. The next morning, he told his master what he saw in his dream, but the latter played down his fears. He rather asked Obinna to go for a medical check-up; as such dreams were part of the symptoms of malaria.
Obinna kept having one nightmare after the other, until one fateful night, when the truth finally came to light. He had the same dream of a man trying to stab him with a knife. He screamed and woke up, only to see his master holding a knife above him, meaning to stab him. He swiftly pushed Chief Okesi away and ran for dear life. It dawned on Obinna that all that was said about Chief Okesi was not untrue. All that he had heard about the mysterious deaths of some of the people that served Chief Okesi in the past started ringing in his ears. It also dawned on him that it would not be anything other than the truth that the reason why Chief Okesi readily accepted him after finding out about his background was that if he killed him, nobody was ever going to ask questions.
The next morning, Chief Okesi went to Central Police Station and lodged a complaint that Obinna had made away with his money. A manhunt was immediately lunched and Obinna was arrested.
Some of his friends attempted to secure his release, but failed, as they were also threatened with arrest as accomplices to the crime Obinna was alleged to have committed. This was because Chief Okesi had a special arrangement with the Divisional Police Officer of the station for Obinna to be detained indefinitely, until he decided on what to do with him.
Obinna continued to languish in the police cell for over two weeks, surviving at the mercy of his cellmates, who shared with him what their visitors brought for them. After two months in the Police custody, the D.P.O. had a change of heart. He invited Obinna to his office and interrogated him. After hearing Obinna out, he took pity on him and regretted being used by Chief Okesi to perpetrate his heinous victimization of the innocent boy.
To make it up to Obinna, the D.P.O. did not only release him, but also took total responsibility for him and saw him through the completion of his program in school. Obinna graduated from State Polytechnic with top scores. He could not achieve his earlier dream of becoming a medical doctor, but was happy to be a qualified and certified Computer Scientist. Obinna felt he owed his entire life to Mr. Agboola (Divisional Police Officer), for the major role he played in making his academic success possible.
He applied for a job with Shell Company, successfully made it through the interviews and was offered a very lucrative job.
"My case is different," Obinna affirmed.
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