DOZ Issue 36 October 2018 - Page 37

man, he brought it all on himself.” Sometimes the wives take a break from fighting each other and their husband and begin to fight their stepchildren, and the children in turn begin to fight amongst themselves in a bid to defend their mothers. These are serious fights I’m talking about, and often objects like sticks and stones are hurled at each other. Our home is known by all in Ughelli as a war zone, and people avoid our compound at all costs so as not to be hit by the crossfire of sticks and stones. Our rich relatives who own cars never drive them into our compound when they visit, but park them afar to avoid having their windscreens broken by flying objects; and to be quite honest one can never tell when these objects might begin to fly, not even those of us living in the compound. In September 1998, I gained admission into the university. Prior to this time, I had stayed home for two years, as I struggled to pass my JAMB examinations. Well, when my result was released my father announced that he did not have the money to pay my fees, and suggested that I sit at home another year to allow him pull his resources together for what he termed, a big project. I was so heartbroken that I wept. And as I am sure you have already guessed, my mother immediately engaged him in a serious battle. She called him unprintable names and because I couldn’t bear to watch them fight, I walked out of the compound and went for a long walk. I walked on, without knowing where I was going. After hours of wandering about Ughelli aimlessly, I returned home. My mother was relieved to see me. Apparently, she had searched for me in my friends’ houses without any luck. She said she would do everything in her power to ensure I was able to keep my admission, as she knew I had worked very hard to attain it. She intended to borrow the money; I knew it and my heart bled. If she was to borrow the money when and how would she pay it back, considering she had my younger brothers to care for also? However, fortune smiled on us; in the course of However, fortune smiled on us; in the course of that week we were paid a visit by a relative of my father who was a very wealthy business man based in Lagos. He came to Ughelli every now and then to see his aged father. Sometimes, he called at our house. His visits were always welcomed as he had a habit of giving us money whenever he dropped by. that week we were paid a visit by a relative of my father who was a very wealthy business man based in Lagos. He came to Ughelli every now and then to see his aged father. Sometimes, he called at our house. His visits were always welcomed as he had a habit of giving us money whenever he dropped by. On this particular day he did more than give us money; he offered me a scholarship which included a fixed monthly allowance to cover my basic needs while in school. My parents were overwhelmed with joy as it meant that they wouldn’t need to give me any money throughout my university programme. I was glad because finally I could go to school without worrying about tuition fees and other bills, and what would happen if my parents were unable to keep up with the payments. We thanked him profusely; the only people who were not excited were my stepmothers - and that was understandable. To make good his promise, he gave me a huge sum of money on the spot to take care of my transportation to school, clearance fees and tuition. He wanted me to leave for school the following day and said if I required additional money I was to collect some from his father and he would reimburse him. He also mentioned that I was to collect my monthly allowance from him whenever he was in the village and when he was not, then I was to collect it from his father. It was all like a dream, and I thought at any moment I would awake to reality. But it wasn’t a dream, it was happening for real. The next morning, I was on my DOZ Magazine October 2018 37 «