Month: August 2013


(A short story by Evans Ufeli)
My eyes blinked as the weather went hazy, perhaps it will rain today. I thought. I had spent the entire day working on a criminal case which requires a proof of the res-in-res- (the thing in the thing). Afterwards, it became clear that fatigue had taken the better part of me. I sat on the sofa at the reception but felt dizzy. So i took a novel to read, my mind kept drifting as my eyes traveled around the reception. The dark Mable floor glitters as the ray of the sun came on it through the window. The newly painted wall emitted creamy scent like a coffee kiosks in summer. The ceiling fan rowed in slow motion. I felt different at the reception as I gazed at pictures on the wall. It was beautiful .I guess I had never observed sternly the exquisite ambiance of my office. I held the book closer to my chest, my eyes were wildly open and it quivered. I thought of my life, my plans and ambition. I had not done too badly for myself but I felt there was something I should be doing that I still haven’t started. I kept ruminating on the layers of thoughts. Suddenly, in what seem like sleep-walk I became transfix in a realm I had never been. The journey was as fast as the speed of light. I felt a sensation of extreme trepidation all over my body. “Where am I?” I asked. Then I observed I was on an exquisite narrow road. “What kind of profligacy is this?” I queried. The streets were made of rare gold, silver and diamond. “This maybe where our politicians come to invest their stolen treasures” I thought .Our common wealth has been used to design a place like this and we knew nothing about it all this while. The houses had complex architectural designs. Some were named after people while other had no tag on them. I walked briskly to the inter-change to take a look at the beauty of a magnificent edifice. I stood there in a dropped jaw. I had always wanted to live in an environment so alluring like this and I had held this view tendentiously, perhaps my dream has come to pass. I thought. The weather aptly sooth the skin; the tranquility and humane exquisite texture of the environment gave it a resplendent look that beats the imagination. There were sizable drainage system; structural road networks and ingenuous residential layout of buildings. The spacious links and extensions was a proof that the designers was not from planet earth. The place is festooned with rich fittings and land space. The grasses were green and inviting as assorted flowers stray all over the mopping lines to give the it a beauty that leaves a man’s heart with too many questions. “I have not seen any of the occupants of these buildings.” I thought. Perhaps, they have gone on vacation. These were my thoughts when I had a loud voice behind me. I turned towards the direction while an image stood before me in flowing white apparel. I closed my eyes, knelt down with my two hands affixed to my ears. I prayed that God should deliver me from the hands of this subterfuge that has come to torment me in this new city where I desire to live all my life. I asked God to send his angel to fight this battle for me. As I prayed I shook my head in fervency. I think I actually lost my sanity at that point. The image was not move by my petition .I opened my eyes in faith that God had destroyed my tormentor only to find the figure closer to me. I quickly close my eyes again. This time the prayer went this thus. “Oh father in heaven I bind every spirit that torments the body, soul, spirit and might. I pull the host of demons out of my way in the name of Jesus Christ. Father your word says whatever we bind on earth will be bind in heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven .Therefore I bind this reflection now. Every enemy that stands against my possession, my houses, my mansions before me now. Ah! I pull you down by fire. Eh! You… “Quiet!” A voice beaconed at me. I opened my eyes. I couldn’t look at him clearly. He possessed a glittering presence that made me trembled. He stood very tall, full of live and cleanliness. His beads were neatly carved. His presence sent guilt all around my head. “I had prayed wrongly” I thought. He bore an immutable saintliness that cause me to remember the complex driven letters of Paul to the Hebrews which opined promise and grace -“the two immutable things for which it is impossible for divinity to lie” his voice possess a clinch that is inexplicable. He sounded bass-like then echo-rendering. “You pray amiss all the time, so your plea is not answered” he said. I took time to look at him at the same time I felt I was standing before an extraordinary ruse. “You must learn to entreat accurately” “I don’t need the head gesticulation or the ‘’bindings’’ and ‘’killings’.’ I was shocked at how reverend himself. Who are you? I asked. So he sat. “Echoes of the infinite” he said. I shivered when I heard that. I turned to run but my legs botched me. I couldn’t move an inch. “Don’t be scared” he thundered. “I opted to see you today.” Ah! Me? I exclaim. At that point tears rolled down my chick. “Is it my judgment day’’? I asked.’ ‘’No my son “what? He called me his son? I thought. I don’t deserve to be called his son. “Please who are you’’? I gawk at his forthrightness. Every description of divinity I had ever read, he bored them all and even exceeded those scriptural descriptions. His voice secretes faithfulness; his appearance gong holiness – he was divine enough on that seat and also human enough to relate to me. “Do you know Abraham?” I asked “yes he became my friend for just one reason-obedience” he took up Isaac his only son when I made the request for sacrifice. Abraham is extremely faithful.’’ Can I find one like him among you’’? ‘’Fifteen billion years ago, I created the earth, made all creatures there-in and brought man into the earth to keep it. My words, statuses and precepts were meant for your good; your edification. But, you still have not made up your mind to live right. You kept losing out” .As he said those words I became cold with goose pimples all over my body. Why have I not been obedient to God? I asked myself “you offer lip services to me as though you knew me. You extort money from people in my name; you set up monuments which u call churches to milk the poor of their meager resources. There are those who worship me in truth and in spirit and I have blessed them. I have opened the windows of heaven upon them. I have caused them to prosper and be in good health. They will inherit this kingdom!” He spoke eloquently. I was full of guilty as he made those utterances I thought I should ask him to forgive me but the words stocked in my mouth “some of you have so elevated your status beyond the reach of those I wanted you to help. But as long as you do not make yourself available to the people I want you to help I will remain elusive to you. You have made greed your second nature. Your selfishness and self-centeredness is a mark of disobedience to my throne. I have made you a little lower than the angels so that you can show forth your kindness to your fellow men. But you have always chosen the destructive route’’. I went closer to him. I needed to know my spiritual status. “Of all your sins, one that amused me more than annoys me” he continued, ‘’is your recent insatiable quest for material things. Your ostentatious lifestyles beguile my principle and precepts. I do speak to men but men have made alters of lies out of my magnanimity. My commandment are sacrosanct and not an afterthought’’. Those words came to me so strappingly. I humbled myself in preparation to ask for clemency. I thought of the mansions, the beautiful environment and the sophisticated lifestyle. In the same manner I thought of my sins; the pains I have subjected myself to. My sins so confronted me that day that I felt I will never get hold of the richness of life. I saw that day. I beckoned my nerves to ask certain questions. “Do you live here”. I asked. “I live everywhere,” “your heart, here, in the waters, air, everywhere. I wanted to ask if I could take any of the mansions; then I remembered he said something about selfishness and self-centeredness so I changed the question quickly. “These mansions, do they belong to you.” Yeah! “I built them for man but his ways have made it so unattainable to him.” I was dazed at that statement. “You made it for man?”I whispered. So we have a place like this for man while we battle over despicable buildings in Lagos Nigeria. We pay two years rent up front, agency and agreement fee separate. Then we pack into miserable houses amidst smiles of achievement. When I thought of it over and over again tears began to drop from my eyes. It flowed uncontrollable .How foolish have made my life all along. “I am still on the mercy seat.” He said to me. “Go and tell your story, you still have a chance to make your ways straight and that of your neighbors- All this can be yours but obedience comes first. Read my commandments follow the revelation as it comes to you and you will find your destination right here. My son prepared this place for you a long time ago and it will remain yours as long as you obey my commandments.” As he said those words I made up my mind that I must stay here. I don’t want to leave this place to Lagos where life is midst with organic madness. I will not go back to the dingy slums, wretched housing estates. I will stay here I must not go back to struggle my way through work amidst city urchins whose recalcitrant behaviors turns me off. As I strayed through this thought an angel then appeared, smiled at me. “You can now go home.” He said. “Who”? “Me?”I asked. “No I don’t have a home.” I answered (Shaking my heads) I said “oh! You mean I can take one of the mansions? I said. “No”. He answered “You haven’t fulfilled the necessary conditions”. I know I haven’t done that but since I am already here let me just stay.’ “You have to go”. He said softly. “I cannot go.” I was created a little lower than you so I should be living here just like you do”. I bawl.“But you are still mortal.”He added. “Ok make me immortal, so I can remain here. See, you don’t understand where I came from. Life is terrible there. It’s Lagos! The population is unimaginable. We scuttle like rats. Some of us live in slums, houses that have neither windows nor doors, we just live! I have been privilege to come here at such a time like this, it will only be wise I stay back or perhaps go back and bring my family with me” The angel looked at me, how serious I was. He said I can go and bring my family. “Oh! Great angel you mean I can go and bring my family’’? Then a voice came to me “who is great angel”? She tapped me.

Then I woke up.

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SECOND COMING TO EZEBAJA (a short story by Evans Ufeli)
That morning I sat across a moulter at the kitchen devouring Isege soup with pounded yam. It was tasty especially because I had not eaten such native savoury for a while. Beside me were cooking utensils, a pistil laid close to my legs, yam pills and some pots weighing different sizes. I enjoyed viewing everything bit of these things around me as it reminded me of childhood. Growing up in Etua at some point in my life was fascinating. Though I wasn’t born there, but when providence took us there we had to bear with the joy and pains prevalent at that location of the earth. Behind the kitchen was a pineapple orchard. Each time I wade in there, memories of childhood rejuvenates in me in such an indescribable vividness. I am actually a moving story, one of which the world needs to hear. I thought that morning. Within the orchard I observed how squirrels locked around the branches of trees scouting for ripe pineapples. They knew which was ready for consumption. They are so smart that once I moved my feet they took to their heels and the orchard returns deserted as if no squirrel came in there. I went further into the orchard- the birds whistled sonorous sounds, the crickets’ chirped. Then came the sported mouse called ‘’Oguno’’ a male one was chasing the female through the footpath that led into the orchard before the demarcation; where a group of bamboo trees clustered hysterically.
This was the very display that brought home dear to my heart .
when I succeeded in getting some pineapples I sat at the parlour pondering over the memories and journey of life so far. It was fifteen years ago I witnessed this and fifteen years after I sat lost in thought; in the rich past of my life. This past made strong impression in my heart so I felt how fifteen years of my life had triggered fifteen years of my recent past.
In making a choice between this two fifteen years I found pleasure in the first which bore me memories of sincerity, innocence and vulnerability. These were my formative years, when my mind was transforming. ‘’You have not taken your bath yet’’ my sister bawl at me. ’’Not yet I need to meditate first and perhaps read some lines from the doctrine of mean’’; a Korean philosophy I said. My sister nodded amidst a captivating smile one which made the morning a veritable one. I stood up and walk to the window as I gazed at passerby. Etua, arguably, is where the most industrious people on earth dwell. People trooped out to their respective trade in multitude. They share a common philosophy -‘’Hard work’’ the wine tappers had already returned from the bush as early as 6am. Palm wine is a special drink in Etua. It extraction from the palm trees dates back to antiquity.
The local technological process for which it is brewed is cherished by the people. It is only cultural to drink ‘’Maya Uzu’’-palm wine. Which represent a purity of some sort. As I stood at the window at that time of the day the cassava harvester were already preparing for the day’s business. The main road that led their way looked rough. It had actually undergone repeated grading process without remedy. The politicians had turned it to a bate for which they use to solicit for votes only to abandon it immediately they assume office. Deliberations on how to put the road in order has been ongoing as long as I can remember. They have all flogged the issue to comma.
As the sun began to rise, the school children walked briskly to school. I watched as they trooped out in large numbers on a blue and white uniform. Some looked very neat on the uniforms and others appeared untidy. Perhaps I should say some are wise and some otherwise. The serious ones walked so hastily as if they were in a race competition, others walked nonchalantly.
This was the school I attended as a child. I had made up my mind earlier on that day to visit the school again, perhaps I will be allow to teach English language or English literature. I eventually left the window to the bathroom, I did the washing swiftly and returned to my room. So I took the doctrine of mean; the Korean philosophy which happens to be my favorite. I needed to bestir my thought deeply in philosophy that morning before I set out to Ezebaja. The doctrine of mean is a text rich in symbolism and guardian to perfect oneself. The ‘’mean’’ is also described as the unswerving pivot. The goal of the mean is to maintain balance and harmony from directing the mind to a state of constant equilibrium. It represents moderation, rectitude, objectivity, sincerity, honesty and propriety. I read all through the thirteenth verses, I stumbled on one of those dignified quotes which I would usually underlined and it reads ‘’what heaven has disposed and sealed is called the inborn nature. The realization of this nature is called (the process; the understanding or making intelligible of this process) is called education’’ I did memorized it that morning as I had done in the past to incisive thoughts from the doctrine of mean. As I walked down the road, a lorry driven by an old man passed by perhaps they had gone to Etua Oliogo to carry some bags of garri and they are headed for Etua Ukpo where the final loading is done before it is transported to Lagos or Port-Harcourt. Someone had called on me from the lorry but the old man didn’t wait for me to see who it was,so I walked faster so as to get to Ezebaja on time. There were white lines across the road which showed that snails crossed over the road in their large numbers overnight, but the deeper signs on the sand were rails of millipede. This was common place during the raining season. The ‘’Oguno’’- ‘’sported mouse’’ kept running across the road, other insects gallivants around the edge of the path hiding under the grass. I saw some isege trees with their newly grown leaves ready to be plucked for the market. People who passed by riding bicycles stopped to greet me each of them inquiring when and how I came into the village. Some even went as far as asking after my brother who I had not seen for the past seven years because he chooses to live oversee. I observed how concerned my people where about their own. They are deliberate; believing that a child of one is that of all. At this point ,I sighted the Ezebaja’s gate. The signboard read ‘’Ezebaja secondary School Etua-Utagba Uno, founded in 1980’’ I stood and looked at the gate. The signboard looked smaller. ‘’perhaps it had sank into the ground! ‘’I thought.’’ No maybe I have grown taller, either of which may supply the lack of the rest.’’ I thought. I felt thrown back into time as a student of Ezebaja, a glowing memory came to me full of ambivalence. How we were locked outside the gate by Mr. Osike; a teacher whose sense of discipline knew no bound. He disciplined us by his excessive malign approach to issues of late-coming, absenteeism and truancy. He was a ferocious young man whose appearance brought us trembling. I stared at the double footpath that spread into the school premises .It has not changed! I remembered how we swept it every morning as early as 5am before we return home in preparation for school proper. I felt a nostalgic sensation cast down memory lane. It looked like it was yesterday. My imagination brought fifteen years back to me as if it all happened just a week before now. The whistling pine were still standing only for a few that had long fallen off, some had ruptured branches. The whistling pine swayed as usual to the route of the wind amidst it whistles which brought that natural serenity most suiting for learning. The guinea and elephant grasses looked grown but the students have cleared them severally during labour time.
The relics of cutlasses showed at the new shot-outs of the grass spear. Ezebaja bore an aura of a legendary institution one of which the entire world should know about .It has produced the high and mighty. It still retained its natural ambiance of tranquility. Much of which have changed is the new buildings now seen in the premises and the reduction in the size of the studentship. I accosted the gate-man; he looked paled that morning perhaps he had been at his duty post overnight. It was only natural for him to come into sight worn out at that time of the day. ‘’yes what do you want?’’ He said. I want to see the principal’’ I answered. ‘’Did he give you an appointment t?’’ he asked. ‘’No’’ I replied. He looked at me bearishly, removed his glasses and put it on again. ‘’So what makes you think you can just come and see him’’ he quarried. ‘’Are you from this village’’ he asked. ‘’Yes’’ I replied. I greeted him in my native tongue ‘’Ajieh Sir!’’ But he wouldn’t reply me. He wasn’t convinced. I could perceive from his facial expression as he subjected me to thorough scrutiny.
‘’Why the interrogation?’’ I thought. He told me to wait for him. He called his colleague who asked me of whose son I was. Then I told him, they were satisfied but not enough to see the principal. It was considered a herculean task. What do you want to see him for? ‘’I have come to teach the students. I was a student here fifteen years ago and I know how it was then and now. I only came to help’’ they quickly sent a message to the principal who ordered them to bring me in. I walked in with unbarred confidence as my intake of the doctrine mean kept vibrating on my lips. The students peeped to catch a glimpse of me- they were uncertain what my mission was. The messenger took me to the principal’s office to see him. ‘’Good morning sir’’ I greeted him. He answered while he wrote what looked like a letter on his table. Then he looked up with a cheerful smile and ordered me to sit. That was the same office we trembled when we were regimented by the principal fifteen years.
Mr Ekele was the principal at that time. Then he made sinister remarks at us as empty-headed students. We actually made mockery of him because he walked like a woman in our estimation. ‘’I will laugh you last’’ he bawl at us .One of his favorite phrases then was ‘’Unu ama li ife’’- you guys know nothing! He had often accused us of relying on examination malpractice to get good grades. But that wasn’t our attraction. We were studious, hardworking and persevering for we knew success wasn’t any man’s monopoly and that one does not understand the significance and value of success until one had failed. The case was made worse because there was a misunderstanding between us and the principal then. So what can I do for you? The principal asked. He was young, energetic and engaging. I told him who I was and what my mission was. ‘’I was a student here before’’ I said. ‘’Really? ‘’ he yelled. ‘’I graduated fifteen years ago’’ ‘’what !’’ he exclaimed.
I came in for my sister’s wedding and I will be around for a week or so, I will like to come around and teach the students English language and English literature. He was very pleased at my request which he granted instantly. We should have more of you around’’ he whispered ‘’yeah!’’ ‘’I just remembered. I will like to meet with the old boys association of this school. Please can you help to group them? I have some names here. You must all come together to create a strong union as old boys’’. He said.He opened a file and brought a list where I found some names of people I know. ‘’Platforms that will better your lives and that of the younger generation must be encouraged’’ He mused ‘’please bear it in mind and we will discuss it in details before you go ‘’. His suggestion pulled me to thought and I felt how docile we had been all this while. He, who is an outsider, is asking us to group up and form the old boys association wherein we can actually make a maximum impact in Etua.
I was taken to the most senior class. As I stepped in I remember vividly my days in that class. I stood at spot where I usually sat fifteen years ago as a little boy, eager to learn. I remembered it was there my love for literature steam out from. I was motivated and I thought like never before in such an unquenchable passion for my people. The desire to see the entire student at the top of their game instigated me to unfold my intellectual articulation on them. They were swept off by the lucidity of my explanation and the penetration of my ideas. Along the line I remembered I was only taught English language at that school once or twice. We had just six teachers in my days there. But today I taught them English language and English literature with such a dept that is next to none.
The student kept clapping and screaming in a loud voice. As I looked at the window all the teacher had gathered I became unrepentant at what I knew how to do best. Soon the principal joined the fray. I told the student how difficult it was in our time but we still studied. We have to get to the farm after school every day. But we still turned out well. We believed in ourselves and we worked towards it. The principal was stunned as he engaged himself on series of thoughts. As I stepped out the class the principal hugged me in appreciation of my good work! You too, can do the same. Service to humanity is the greatest treasure of life. My second coming to Ezebaja………………………………..