THE FLOWER GIRL EPISODE 7
Chidimma had just returned from school and was very hungry. Her mother was not at home as she had followed her husband to the farm in the morning and both had not returned. Chidimma went to the kitchen to look for food and found none. Her mother had often told her that she had come of age and could start learning how to cook. She, therefore, deliberately did not keep any food for Chidimma. Rather, she brought out a yam tuber which she was to cook by herself that afternoon.
When Chidimma did not see any food to eat, she got herself ready to prepare the launch, first, by peeling the yam which she did successfully. The yam had been sliced and put in the pot ready for cooking. The next was to make a fire.
Obele had no stove neither did he have cooker of any kind. Firewood remained the only source of fuel for cooking in Obele’s house. And to make a fire was always a Herculean task. Kerosene and matches were never used for making of fire. To buy a litre of kerosene was not easy for rural dwellers in the likes of Obele, rather, they preferred the use of dry wood to make fire.
Chidimma collected a coconut husk and left for the backyard to look for red hot charcoal. She did not succeed in the first house she entered. From there she moved on to Ogunna’S house. He met Ogunna himself at home. He was sitting at his Obi faning himself and watching his cat eating a piece of meal.
“Good afternoon, nna anyi,” greeted Chidimma.
“Little girl, how are you?”
“I am fine. nna anyi. I have come to collect some red hot charcoal.”
“Whose daughter are you?” Ogunna peered at her.
“I am Obele’s daughter”.
“Oh! My daughter, so you are that their only child’? That’s good. How are once again?”
“I am fine nna anyi.”
“Please my daughter, go to the backyard. You will sec kitchen there.-
Looking at her in admiration, he talked to himself. “So you are Obele’s daughter. Oh! What a fine looking daughter of his. You are radiating like a morning sun.”
Chidimma heard all he was saying but pretended not. She moved towards the kitchen.
Ogunna continued, “Oh! Obele has suffered a lot in his life. Evil men have refuse to allow him have a lease of life. They have killed his father, Ogbuefi and also killed his two brothers with strange illness. The only thing that saved his life was that he ran into church for safety. Apart from that, he should have gone home to meet with his ancestors. But is it not better he is dead than to have a female issue as the only child? Who will hear his name? Who are going to be his descendants? I pity him… “
When Chidimma returned from the kitchen, she was surprised to meet Ogurina still talking to himself. When Ogunna took notice of her coming, he stopped talking and asked.
“Hope you got what you want.”
“No. There is no fire there any longer.”
“Oh! It is a pity. It was the one they made in the morning, I thought it was still alive. Please check other neighbours and sc ifyou will succeed.”
Chidimma moved towards Akpunku’s house as the hunger was heating her mercilessly. When he got there. Akpunku and some ofhis children were around among whom was Obinna, a granduate of the UNN. Chidimma greeted the occupant of the house and equally told Akpunku about. her mission.
Akpunku called Obinna and said to him, “Please Obinna. I isten to her and golve,whatever problem she has. She is your neighbour. ()Ivies only daughter. Her name is Chidimma.”
Obinna was elated on hearing Chidimma because he had all his life lived in Lagos with his maternal uncle from where he proceeded to UNN for his university education. He had equally heard about Chidimma so much.
“Are you the Chidimma we hear about all the time?” asked Obinna. surprised to know that she was still a little girl.
“Where and where did you hear about me?”
“Your name is heard everywhere. Even in Lagos. Everbody talks about you in my school. too. You are too popular to be little. Even,my profs talk about you. I am very glad to meet you.
“Thank you very much.”
“I am very happy to have met you in person.”
“So, who are you?” asked Chidimma.
“I am Obinna by name, One of Akpunku’s sons. I am the first son of his first wife.”
You mean you are Akpunku’s son and I have not been seeing you?”
I am but I have lived most of my life in Lagos.”
“My uncle lives it Lagos. so I lived with him. And from there I got admission at UNN where I studied Economics.”
“You mean you have gone to university?”
“Yes I have.”
“I am very happy for you.”
“I am equally happy for you too.”
“I dream to be like you. How I wish I will have the opportunity of going to university like you.”
“It is very easy. Nothing is there. I have graduated from the university and I have equally served. Right now. I am just returning from my NYSC mandatory service, So if you want to be in university, you will just sit for the entrance examination and go in if you pass. It is.as simple as that.”
“But for me it is not simple. I have many challenges. I am not all that intelligent and my parents lack the wherewithal to send me to school.”
“Don’t worry. Let not that bother you now. In what class are you?”
“Primary six. I am about writing my First School Leaving Certificate Examination and the Common Entrance Examination. And I am not sure of passing them.”
“No! Don’t be such pessimistic. Have the faith that you will make it and then God will see you through.”
“Amen! But I don’t know Mathematics and Quantitative Aptitude.”
“Don’t worry, I will help you. I know Mathematics very well and I will make out time to teach you MathematicS.”
“How much will I pay you? Remember my parents don’t have shishi.”
“Don’t bother yourself.”
“Thank you very much. So there are people like this in this world?”
“So. what brought you to our house today?”
“I am very hungry. So I need burning charcoal to make fire so that I can cook my food.”
“Oh! At the moment, there is no fire,in the kitchen. I am just returning home but let me go and make the fire.”
Obinna went to the kitchen and assisted Chidimma in getting What she wanted and as well followed her home to know her house. On getting to her house, Chidimma’s parents had retunied home.
When Obele saw Obinna, he suspected that he must have been Akpunku’s son because he so much took after him
“Good afternoon sir,” greeted Obinnna.
“My son, ha-ha-how are you?”
“I am very well, thank you.” `
“Yu-yu-you are Akpunku’s son, abi?”
“Okay, yes, he resembles his father very well,” said Ndudi smiling at him.
“How about yu-yu-yu-your fa-fa-father and his leg?”
“He is fine sir. He is at…”
“Are you the one they said went to mahadum?” interrupted Ndudi.
“Yes, I am.”
“You mean you went to yu-yu-univa-va-versity?” asked Obele.
“So-so-so Akpunku has money to send his son to yu-, yu-university but to pay his due at the kin-kin-kin-kindred meeting is always difficult for-fOr-for-for him.”
“No. it wasn’t my father that sent me to school, It was my uncle.
“Asikwu m! But ha-ha-ha-have you gotten a job now’?
“No job yet but I am optimistic.
“You are welcome my son. Please nwanyi, give him some fruits as kola”
“Don’t bother sir. Chidimma just visited our house to get some red hot charcoal and I decided to follow her home to see where she lives having heard much about her even in Lagos”.
In Lagos! A-a-a-are yew sure?” asked Obele.
“I am telling you the truth. I was even expecting to see a big lady in the name of Chidimma only for my father to introduce a little girl to me as Chidimma…”
Chidimma interrupted them as she came into the house calling her father walking closer to them, “Papa. papa. papa.
Obele looking at her. asked. “What is that e-e-e-again? I hope that your teacher has not a-a-asked for another money again.”
“Papa it is not about the money.”
“Then about. wor-wor-what? I think that the best thing you will do is to ge-gc-ge-get married so that your hus-hus-hus-hus-band will begin to spend his money on you. As for me I am ta-ta-ta-tired.”
“Papa our teacher said that there is a common entrance form we are going to fill tomorrow in our school. She told us to ask our parents to tell us the secondary school of our choice which we are going to fill in the form.”
“What do you mean by se-se-secondary school?” asked Obele
Obinna cut in quickly, “It is another school higher than primary school which Chidimma will have to attend after her primary education.”
Obele did not say anything. All he did was to pick up his machete and begin to tiptoe away from the compound. Obinna was flabbergasted by Obele’s behaviour.
“Papa Chidimma, where are you going to?” asked Ndudi
“Le-le-le-let me go and ge-ge-ge-get some leaves for my livestock,” starrnered Obele as he moved out of the compound leaving Obinna more confused. Chidimma had earlier left for the kitchen to continue with her cooking.
Ndudi looked at Obinna and said. “I know you must be surprised by his behaviour. Nobody should blame him because we are finding life difficult here. We are just managing to see her through primary school though with help ofa man from America.
Not minding that she is on scholarship, there is no single day she will not come home to tell us that her teacher asks them to bring money for this or that. In fact Our body is paining us and nobody is comfortable with this any longer.”
“So, does that mean that she will no longer continue with her education?”
“Yes, that’s what it means. Maybe if she gets married. her husband will continue from where we stopped.”
Obinna left Chidimma’s house unhappily.