Chapter 2.

In 1996, I finally began secondary school. I was enrolled in Dolphin high school, Lagos. It was a dream come true for me. My morale was high, I was ready to put in my best just to make sure I didn have to be withdrawn. I clearly understood that , being allowed to go to school, was an opportunity, given to me to become someone in life. I appreciated the sacrifices, made by my Aunty and her family. For Deacon took it upon himself despite the fact that he was faced with numerous bills, and Aunty Mary finally agreeing, after being pasuaded by her children is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

From day one in school , I was ready to learn. I made sure I was always neat to school. I also made sure I put in my very best in class. Although I was making new friends, but I made sure the company I was keeping in school were those that were on the same page with me, friends who were also ready to focus on their education and improve themselves in every aspect of their lives. Whenever I was in school, I became happier than the moments at home. Home was hell for me, while school was my paradise.

The fact that I had began schooling made things more difficult for me at home. I had to wake up 5am in the morning, everyday to supply my Auntys numerous customers. I would push a wheelbarrow loaded with bags of Charcoal, rice, palm oil, vegetable oil, satchet water and so on, to different shops where my Aunty had customers. Once I was done with that, I will return to the house to wash dishes, sweep the house and run a few errands before I would be allowed to take my bath and get ready for school. Everyday I had to be flogged in school for coming late, but I got used to it. This was indeed too much on me but I had no choice at all. Being enslaved was the price I have to pay to get education, and I was ready to comply.

Despite all that I was going through at home, I was doing my best to ensure I don lose focus on my studies. I became the best in my class and I was ready to do more. In my second year in the secondary school , things got harder. I needed textbooks in other to keep improving myself. Our teachers were recommending books that we all needed to buy to stay up-to-date with our studies. While my classmates were buying their books, I could not purchase mine because my Aunty said there was no money for books, so I was borrowing textbooks from my friends in school and at home. It often became difficult for me to do my homework because I didn have textbooks of my own. But I didn allow myself to be discouraged.

I continued to focus on my studies despite all the chores I had to do at home. I had the opportunity to play soccer in school with my classmates. Despite my busy days, I tried as much as possible to keep in touch with my friends at home and school. In 1997, I was in the second class of the junior secondary school by then,a cousin of mine announced that she was getting married.Sister Rebecca was Aunty Janes daughter(another one of my Dads elder sisters). Every member of our extended family had to be there.

I was happy because after a few years of being with with my guardian(Aunty Mary), I had never had a chance to see other members of my family. I was informed, my grandmother will be coming from the village, at the the same time I felt if my grandmom will be traveling down here , my dad would be present too. I started counting down to the day of the wedding. I wanted to share with them three things. The first one was how much I missed them. The second was how interesting school has been, lastly I wanted to tell my dad everything I was going through. I wanted to let him know, so he could put himself together, then take me to live with him, so I could continue my school with him.

Before the date set for the wedding,my birthday came around and I clocked thirteen. On the morning of my birthday, my cousin John gifted me a wristwatch. It was my first birthday gift. The village where I came from, people didn talk about birthdays, so I had never thought much about my birthday until age twelve. I was happy to get the gift , I could not wait to show my friends. The reason I was so excited was because in my entire life, I had never received a gift from anyone, Christmas and birthdays always passed just like every other day. The only time I got new Clothes when I was in the village was during the Passover celebrations. The Passover is celebrated by the Jehovah witness church worldwide and my family happened to be members.Although, most members of my family switched churches the moment they left the village, my grandmother was a devout member and made sure I was too.

Some weeks after my birthday, preparations had begun for Rebeccas wedding. I received the news of my grandmothers arrival in Lagos. I was informed that I was to be taken to the mainland area of Lagos where the wedding was to take place on Friday because the day of the wedding was on Saturday. I could not wait for Saturday to come because I was about to see the most important people in my life, my father and Grandmother. Although, no one mentioned it to me that my dad would be there,I just expected him to be.

Friday finally came, out of excitement, I was the first to take my bath and get ready. I moved all the things we have to take to the event inside the Deacons car, a white Pegeout 504. Deacon and his wife got ready too.The three of us rode in Deacons car, while my cousins were to join us later. My cousins were already in their twenties so they could come on their own.

We rode a few kilometers from Lagos island to Lagos mainland. The only time I had to cross the Third mainland bridge before now was when my Aunty would take me to one of the markets on the mainland to go hawk razor blades and when we attended church services at the Union Baptist Church where my uncle was a Deacon.

When we arrived at Aunty Janes house in Surulere, almost every member of the extented family was present. There was lots of cooking going on by the women, while the men were fixing canopies, arranging the chairs and icing the drinks. As soon as we parked, someone noticed us and called on the attention of everyone,and they came to welcome us. I greeted few people, then rushed in to meet my grandmother and dad, whom I believed must be inside.

When I got inside I met my grandmother but I didn see my dad. I ran to my grandmother where she was seated, we hugged each other, I felt tears dropping off my eyes. My grandmother was happy to see me. I met her eating, so I joined her to have breakfast. She told me how much she missed me and how everyone including my friends in the village kept asking about me. It was really an interesting moment with her. Being with her made me feel safe and happy , knowing how much she loved and took care of me, all through the moments I spent with her in the village.

After the emotional moment with her, I had to go and join my other cousins. I had met some of them here in the city before I was relocated to the village,having the opportunity to play with other children who were my family members was really fun. While the adults were focusing on preparations for the event, we the kids played all day. The evening came,the boys were asked to go to the room assigned to us while the girls were given a different room.

On our way to the room, one of my cousins, Emmanuel, started sharing with me, those things that had been happening in the family, then he mentioned something that struck me like lightening,my dad had died. I was in shock as he mentioned this. Emmanuel was surprised that I was not aware of my dads death. He hugged me while I continued to cried uncontrollably on his shoulder. Emmanuel was my older than me and he quickly understood that since I had not been informed of my fathers death,it meant the elders didn want me to know.He realised he could get in trouble for telling me.He held me close and started wiping away my tears, begging me to stop crying before anyone came to find out what he had just told me. I could not stop crying but I managed to make sure, no one found out that I was crying. I gently went into the room to lay down on my side of the bed. I continued to shed tears and remembering the moments shared with my dad before the ugly incident that separated us. I thought of how he would sing for me and take me everywhere, whenever he was not working. I felt betrayed by my Aunty and her family for not informing me of my Dads death. I felt I should have been allowed to go and pay my last respect at his burial. Now hes was gone, and I didn even know what happened and where he was buried. I also became curious to know why my grandmother didn mention it to me despite all the time we had spent together in the morning. Maybe she thought I knew, or probably it was difficult for her to talk about her sons death. I would see her in the morning to let her know that I already found out that my dad had died. Various thoughts was running through my mind. My plan to get my dad to take me away from my Aunts place had obviously failed. I could not go back to the village with my grandmother, she would not allow it. So I had to return to my guardians where I was planning to leave because of the things I was going through. Eventually,I fell asleep with a heavy heart.

Morning came, I woke up not believing what Emmanuel had told me the previous night. Unfortunately,it was true, my dad had passed away six months ago. He fell sick and died in the village. I woke up with the hope of seeing my grandmother to let her know about what I found out last night, but there was no space for me to even got close to her. Everyone was all over her, as she got dressed for the wedding. As soon as she was dressed, she moved with her children to the venue of the wedding. The wedding started, everyone were partying, but I was mourning. I was sad throughout the event, only Emmanuel knew, and he made sure to check on me throughout the ceremony. At about 3pm while the ceremony was still going on, Aunty Mary walked up to me and asked me to go and take a public bus back home because it was time for me to take supplies to her customers. I was really sad that I had to go, without having the opportunity to be with my grandmother for a few more days before she returned to the village. I had alot I wanted to talk to her about, but I was not given a chance to pour out my feelings. I knew for sure then that if I must survive, then I had to be brave for the times ahead. I had to continue to endure, hoping that by the time I get into the University I will be away from home without having to go through the pain I had been enduring. I was hopeful enough as a child to believe that better days were ahead.

Sound track : Seasons in the sun by Westlife.

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