Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Rough Round the Edges

I awoke from sleep, I checked the time on my bedside digital-clock: 4:32am. I grumbled in frustration. One thing I always hated was waking up at such awkward times. I had just managed to get comfortable considering it was a very warm night. I briefly thought about Samson and the youth-work he spoke about.

I got up to get a drink. I tip-toed my way down and crept into the kitchen. The floor didn't feel as cool as it usually did. I walked to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water. I sat at the kitchen table and reflected on my life, my father, my future and even my sister. She did still have unresolved issues with our dad; i assumed he and Peace spoke about these issues the other day.

The sound of my father's footsteps broke my track of thoughts; I had a split second thought at how people recognise the footsteps of individuals in their household. I held a mouthful of the cool-water and when he entered I gulped it down. My dad switched on the light and I winced as the light painfully hit my eyes.

"Mikel, you're up." My father said.
"Yeah. I couldn't sleep, the heat is bothering me." I replied.
My father laughed soft and quietly.

"Heat? ajebutter; what will you do when you go to Nigeria?" He said amusedly as he took a seat right next to me.
"I'll find a way to cope" I replied smiling.

"So what's new?" He asked me.
"I was just thinking...about stuff. Me and my life, you and Peace.."
"Me and Peace? why, what's wrong?" My father asked.
"Haven't you and her spoken lately? I thought you did the day me and you had our talk?" I looked at him for a few seconds h just looked back.

"Obiora, what is wrong with Adannaya?" I could tell he was genuinely concerned because he called my sister by her Igbo-name.
"Nothing dad, it's just that she feels she can never top herself with you" My father looked at me as if I had just spoken in a different language.
"Dad, whenever Peace had achieved something you've also just been satisfied with her. You never really focus on her like you do with me?"

My father scoffed as if I was telling him a lie.
"I've been very kind and fair to her and I know she wouldn't be ungrateful for that!"
I continued speaking.
"With me, I've always...ALWAYS had to top what I have previously done, but when it comes to Adannaya..." I paused for a few seconds and took a drink of my water.
"...everything is just fine, she told me you're just content with what she does. I mean, can't she please you like how I do sometimes?"
I slowly bowed my head a stared at my water-bottle. I felt as if I had just betrayed my sister.

My father's eyes continued to rest on me. I could feel them on me. The chair creaked from his weight as he leaned back.
"I don't want to make you feel like you're a bad father but, you're ..." I hesitated to speak.
"Gini? Oya..., complete your sentence" he demanded.
My tongue felt dry, as if I hadn't been drinking water at all. "'re not perfect, you're sometimes rough around the edges."

He mumbled my words back to me in a confused way.

As I end my sentence he stood up, I almost flinched. Although my dad hasn't smacked me since I was 13, a stroke of fear passed through me. I tried to style it out as if I wanted to stretch. My dad just kept his eyes on me. My father slowly walked out of the kitchen, switching off the light as he left. He didn't say anything, but I could tell what I said really got to him; I guessed that was a good thing.
I left my bottle of water and went back up to my room I could see the dark sky start to lighten up. I got into bed and waited for sleep to carry me off.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A Grown Child...

Message from author: I have decided to change the format/style of writing.

I left Samson’s place feeling uneasy. On the way home Peace was trying to talk to me, but I wasn’t paying attention. Her voice was like a hum in the background mixing in with the sound of noisy kids on the bus and slow moving traffic.
I casted my mind back to when me and Samson agreed to go travelling. It seemed like a good idea at the time, meeting new people, seeing new places and most of all… escaping my father; but after some thinking I came to the realisation that the main reason why I wanted to travel wasn’t a good one. I obviously had problems with my dad and running from them wasn’t going to help. So I did what I thought was wise and chose to go to uni instead. I understood Samson’s frustration though, he was very keen to go travelling.
When I and Peace arrived home mum had already served food on the dining room table. My father sat in his usual seat. Mum welcomed us with a big smile.
“Peace, guys are back. What took you so long?” my mother asked.
“Sorry, I guess I lost track of time” I responded.
“Ah ah, but Peace didn’t you have your iBerry? You could have called me.”

Me and Peace looked at each other confused? Then it hit me, she was referring to Peace’s BlackBerry. I laughed; even my father was amused.

“You mean her BLACKBeryy?”  My dad asked.
“Ehen, Blackberry. Anyway they’re back, no problem.”

For dinner we had Pounded Yam and Edikaikong Soup. My sister used a fork to eat her food; something which I always thought was weird.
“So, Obi…where did you and your sister go to?” My father asked interestedly.

His tone was calm and friendly. I guess I had no reason to feel tense like anymore. Ever since our little talk I felt more relaxed around him.

“We went to see Samson” I replied
“Oh, OK. How is he? I heard he decided not to go to university; I hope he’s faring well.”
“Yeah, he’s fine. We talked a bit, nothing much.”
“Has he found work yet?” my father asked
“Work? Err, I don’t know” I replied.

A part of me felt happy to say that….at least I won’t have my dad go on about how smart Samson is.
After dinner I went up to my room to lie down, while the rest of my family watched TV in the living room.
I started thinking of my future options when my phone rang and cut into my thoughts. I looked at the screen-display; it was Samson.

"Hi, Samson?"
"Yeah, Mikel, What's good?.. I just quickly called to you know...earlier today, I…well we…" Samson didn't finish his sentence; but he didn't need to I knew what he meant.
"Yeah, I know, Sam. It's cool." I replied.
"Anyway, there's one thing I wanna discuss with you. I recently got info about a youth group in the area; it just opened up and and they’re looking for workers, you know people like you who are academically talented.”
I laughed at the way he described me.
“So are you interested?” he asked.

I thought about it for a second and decided to go for it. I already knew how hard it was to find a job these days.

“Yeah sure, I’m interested; I need something to do anyway till I can find something in Accounting.”
“Cool bro.., I’ll holla at you again and give you the details. Bye Mikel”

After the call ended I went back to my thoughts and what I’d do with myself. Youth Work wasn’t exactly what I saw myself doing, but it was better than nothing. The only thing was how my father would take it. I decided to bring out now and get it out of the way.
Downstairs my father was reading, whilst my mum and sister were watching the news. As if my dad could sense something, he looked up at me.
“Anything the matter, Obi?” my father asked.
“No not really, I just wanted to talk to you about something. I just got off the phone with Samson. There’s some youth work going on and it sounded interesting, if I get the job I thought it’d be good, till I find work in Accounting & Finance.”
My Father just looked at me blankly, placed the book on his lap and smiled slightly. I couldn’t tell whether he thought I kidding or he was just trying to supress anger. My sister and mother’s attention was now fully on us.
“No problem.” He said. “I just hope you thought about it first.”

Although I was happy my dad approved, I still expecting a little more resistance from him, I was glad he had loosened up on me, but it felt weird…and almost too good to be true. I gave a silent sigh of relief and went back up to my room to lie down again.
As I lay on my bed, I began to think about my father. He had changed towards me slightly and I don’t know if I liked it or not. His relationship with me had a lasting effect on me; I was still weary of him. At least when he was hard on me it was predictable; now it was the opposite. I thought to myself: I'm grown but still feel like a child when in my father’s presence...a grown child. The thought scared and amused me at the same time.
As I started dozing off the last thoughts in my mind were that I should be happy. My father had loosened up on me; but why wouldn't he? after all I'm grown. I smiled a bit as my eyes got heavier; a thought came into my mind; no matter how grown you are, you're still a child in your parents’ eyes.