The Truth (Chapter 1)

by Benn Ahwayevu

It was the 11th day in the month of March, year 2013.

I woke up very early as usual. For some time now I have been experiencing what I call a ‘half-night sleep’, not being able to sleep from between 10:00pm till day break, which was supposed to be my usual sleep time. Instead I would wake up at around 2:00am or 3:00am and often not be able to fall asleep again. Although most of those days, I may just sit on my bed doing nothing particularly, some other times I would eventually get to write poems or a prose, because among a whole pack of talents and passions that I had, poetry was one major role I play in my private time.

Forgive my spontaneity, My name is Kennedy Rian, though people preferred to call me Saint Rian, because to them my personality was likely to that of a saint. You see, I grew up with a Christian background, and the ethics and discipline inculcated in me were that of a religious Christian home. So you could see I’m neither a Muslim nor a pagan but rather a Christian, which is the major reason why I accepted to be called Saint Rian. I believe by now, you could imagine how strongly committed I was to the church and Christian doctrine. Well, if you don’t mind, allow me to throw more light.

I was the Student Scripture Union president of my secondary school, Osy College in Warri. Yes, I hailed from Delta State, in the South-south region of Nigeria and I was a typical Niger Deltan from the Urhobo tribe. Now, aside being the Scripture Union president of my school, I was also a song director in my church and an assistant youth president. From a very young age of thirteen, I was already burning for the things of God, and like my father would say “My son is a young vibrant youth for a generation of mad people will pave the way for sanity in the next generation to come.” I did not really get a clear meaning for the sanity part but I believed one day I would.

Now you probably had a clue why I was referred to as saint. My dad on the other hand was really happy I was living a Christ-like life and he would always ask me to keep that fire burning and never quench it. I was sure going to.

It was not daybreak yet when I started getting enthusiastic about what today had in store for me; my expectations, dreams and long awaited desire was about to be considered by the heavens and I just couldn’t wait for the dawn of this new day, when the sun will emit beams of light on the surface of the earth. You may be wondering what was so exciting about this new day that I was now sounding poetic. Well, it was the day I would have to run to the cyber cafe around my area to check if I had been considered for an admission in the university I applied in to study Physics.

For the past two years I anticipated being admitted into a university in Bayelsa State, Nigeria known as Federal University, Otuoke. So this year, immediately after writing my SSCE exams, I sat for JAMB, the qualifying exam for getting into higher institutions in Nigeria, where I scored two hundred and eighty six, a good score to be considered, and I went on to apply for another pre-qualification exam organised by the university. It was stressful, but this was how difficult it had become to get admitted into any university in the country. One had to go through this many processes. I chose Federal University Otuoke because it was situated in the hometown of Goodluck Egbele Jonathan, an ex-president of Nigeria, whom I admired so much. How could I not wish to study in his hometown?

By now it was already as awaited, the morning bright but yet the sky was still blue giving the earth its morning cold greeting. The sun was looking identical to the moon, and the birds singing and dancing up the sky were probably happy for me. I was indeed going to be embraced with the good news today. Mikel, my friend since the age of crawling as said by my mother, happened to have applied in the same university as I did. Yeah, it was that kind of friendship that resembled that of a cock and hen, as we were always chasing each other around. When I said chasing, I didn’t mean the type that involves running around the town with sticks rolling tires everywhere; I would rather call that lizards play.

Nevertheless there had always been a competition between Mikel and I. Mother would say I started walking two days after Mikel stood tall on his feet and took several steps without the aid of his walking bicycle, and Mikel started talking the day after I made my first vocal expression. You see my mum and Mikel’s mum were close friends and so they kept every record of our childhood. As much as I could remember, Mikel and I never let go of each other’s shoulders when it involves coming first or second from class 1-6, even up to senior secondary. He was a friend and a brother. Mikel was always a good ally in every fight, and it was said that Mikel and I put together was a force even the wind cannot comprehend.

People compared us to two popular Nollywood actors, Aki and Pawpaw, because we were just exactly like them, and although we were both from different parents, you could barely tell because of the intense nature of our closeness. I would refer to him as a brother I would always want. Mikel was the third child of seven siblings. His father died six years ago and left the burden of tending to seven children in the hands of their mother. It was not an easy task but Mama Mikel was a strong woman who wanted her kids to get the highest level of education as she could afford, and she never ceased to exert strenuous effort on making sure they were all educated. She ran a small fast food business which one could not possibly believe she was surviving from, but those us closer to her and her family knew about her laboured effort. Indeed a strong woman she was, and although broken after her husband’s death, she did not let that weigh her down.

Mama Mikel was a very energetic woman as she stood in the place of both a father and a mother and she never lost course, and by now two of her kids were already graduates, the first two eldest: Edwin who studied mechanical engineering from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Ruth who studied Pharmacy in Delta State University (DELSU). Ruth now owned a small pharmacy shop along Ekpan road in Warri. She was married with two kids and this was a thing of pride to Mama Mikel. Well, it is would be a thing of pride for any mother who singlehandedly raise any child. Despite this fact that she already had two graduates, she still was not giving up on any of her children, wanting every child of hers to attain educational degrees, She was doing a great job at this, with her fast food business gradually growing into a restaurant. Her food was always delicious and every day she got more customers trooping into her cafeteria, and every old and young individual were familiar with her. This gradual success story really encouraged her to put more effort in developing her small shop into something bigger, so that her customers could be attended to without any displeasure.

Now back to where we started from. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten the most exciting aspect of today. Mikel was already banging tirelessly on the door. I knew it was him when I heard a high pitched noise resembling that of a human voice constantly making a call on my name “Saint Rian!” I recognized the voice immediately; it was Mikel’s. I mean how could I not recognize my best friend’s voice? I hurriedly put on my clothes since I had already taken my bath, and I did other necessaries and rushed to the door before he pulled it down, even if he knew I was the only one home at that time. My mum and dad had already gone out: mum to her work as a teacher in a private secondary school and dad too to his transportation occupation, although his passengers preferred to call him Okadaman. My other younger siblings had already gone to school. Oh did I not tell you I was the first child amongst three children my parents had?

I opened the door and there was Mikel looking elegant as usual, “Shuo Saint, na wa for you o. How many hours you go take open door?” he said in his normal pissed of tone. The thing was Mikel wasn’t as meek in nature as I was, and that wasn’t a problem since usually in a set of twin, one would be said to be noisy and stubborn while the other calm and gentle. Well in this case, Mikel was the stubborn and noisy one with zero tolerance for a lot of things. He was also hot tempered and had no patience for time.

“I am sorry for delaying,” I replied in my usual gentle and most times shaky voice.

He smiled to show he was not all that angry. “Let us go quickly,” he said. We walked down the street talking and ‘gisting’ on how we both could not sleep all through the night. For me it was a normal routine, but for Mikel it was not. He was only enthusiastic to find out if he had been admitted into the university, and we believed we would. In fact, we were not ready to entertain any doubt.

We finally got to the cyber café, but it was rowdy as we got there late. Other people from different parts of the town were there already to do one business or the other. Some to check results for whatever exam they took, others to either type or photocopy documents or access the internet. Mikel and I had to wait until it gets to our turn to be attended to. We sat on a chair just outside the café and started to envisage how it would be like getting ready to go to the higher institution – leaving home, family and friends, taking an apartment and meeting new friends.

For me, it was paramount of me finding a good church, joining the choir group and other singing groups and campus fellowship, meeting new people that would help me know more about The Truth and people that were growing and being encouraged by their commitment. I could already picture myself studying endlessly, going to classes and in place of calling those ambassadors of knowledge uncles and aunties, I start calling them lecturers. Also, following other course mate to do till-day-break study, the one they call TDB study, would be dreams come through I said to myself.

I got this small information about the higher institution when I went for my Post-JAMB exam. Mikel and I met a girl in her third year, who helped us during the two days we spent in the school for the exam.

Her name was Timi. Well, let me tell you how we met Timi.

It was a very hot afternoon when we arrived at Federal University Otuoke in a bus. We got down and were both immediately confused on where to start from. “Let us get lodged in a hotel, drop our bags, freshen up and come back to explore the university as my father instructed”, I said.

“You are right,” Mikel said, “Now let’s go and look for an affordable hotel.”

I momentarily turned my back, and I saw an hotel with an inscription Magels Hotel. “Let’s check this one out”, I said to Mikel.

 We went into the hotel where we met a man probably a worker there or waiting for someone, we approached him. “Hello,” Mikel greeted the man, “Please how can we get lodged?”

The man looked us over. “You see that lady standing there? She is the receptionist. She will get you lodged,” the man replied.

“Thank you,” we chorused.

We approached the receptionist, paid her for two nights and she gave us the key to our room. That was when she called Timi to take us to room 412. She was an undiluted beauty, dark and of average height. I concluded that this was one of those God took His time to put together as I kept a constant stare on her till we got to our room.

“This is your room,” she said, “And if you keep staring at me, you might not recognize your room when you come in again.”

Mikel laughed. “No, I’m not staring,” I replied, almost feeling embarrassed if not for the smiles she wore. But it was as if an angel had spoken to me from the heavens because of the tiny and lovely voice she had.

Well that was how we met, and before the end of the day we started getting along. The next day, she came around for room service and we talked about ourselves and the school. The three of us became friends, and although she was older than Mikel and I, she never made a pitch of that fact. She assisted us with directions to our exam venues and later even threw in some calculated words of advice as relating to our coming to the university when admitted. It was like we found both a friend and a sister, but I on the other hand had started catching feelings.

Timi was the last child of her parents, and she was being treated with excessive indulgence. One would even say she was being treated like an uncooked egg which happens to be everyone’s only hope for a meal. She on the other hand didn’t enjoy being everyone’s concern and little baby. She was twenty-two years of age, but she preferred to be less of a concern in a family of six, including the extended family. She was the kind that liked to struggle and survive on her own, and that was why she picked an hotel job; not because she was lacking, but because she believed that one must learn to let go of the wings they had to fly, but rather walk with the legs so that if those wings were lost someday, moving would not be an issue.

Now she made her own money, or should I say she was making her own earnings. I called that being independent, therefore being free from her colonial masters, who indeed had been doing a good job which I must commend, because this beauty couldn’t be less expensive. She was studying English and Communications Art, and she was really proving the effect of this discipline in the way she talked with such corresponding phonetic application. Timi was not a talker, although she gets along with whoever she chose to get along with. She was more of an extrovertic-introvert, I would say.

Before leaving the school after the exams, we exchanged contacts and social media handles, and since that day we had not stopped communicating. Mikel wasn’t much in the friendship story between Timi and I because he was never interested in females. According to him, having a female friend comes with a lot of responsibilities that would take only a man and not a boy to handle, and he would always say “I can never be close to a female”. Nonetheless, Timi and I grew so close and fond of each other, and she never made age or class cause a glitch to our friendship. And since I wasn’t a timid person to a large extent, it wasn’t surprising why Timi and I could get along so easily.

She would never let a day pass by without calling me if I didn’t call her since I couldn’t always call her. Where would I get the airtime from anyway? I didn’t have money unless my mum gave me some or I got invited to play the piano in any church or event and get paid some cash. She stood a better chance to always have airtime because, you know, she worked. Remember? Not just that, her father owned three water production companies and four of the biggest student lodges in the Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State. Her father was also a politician with a lot other investments and her mother owned one of the biggest private schools in Bayelsa. She had a brother who is an engineer in Chevron, a sister who was a lecturer in the University of Port-Harcourt and another sister who was currently serving in Illorin. Timi was the lastborn and everybody’s preserved cake in a refrigerator.

So, do you still need details why she shouldn’t lack airtime like I do? Still Timi never made pride out of all this. Can you see what wonderful a person she was?

I was still in a cyber café though, and it was already our turn to be attended to. I looked at Mikel sitting beside me, lost in thought. What was he thinking about? Could it be similar to mine, about the excitement of going to a university?  Well, whatever it was I was sure it had to be about our impending university admission. I tapped Mikel and told him it was our turn. We both went inside and gave our registration numbers to the man that was to attend to us. After he checked our admission portal, we were confirmed admitted to study the courses we applied for. I felt like I was among the stars, as words couldn’t describe the joy I felt. It was a dream come true and we ran out of the café in excitement and joy.

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