I was too young and naive to understand that my parents had officially gone their separate ways. They both refused to take care of me. My father had disappeared to an unknown town, and my mother had run to Chief Ochiriozua- a wealthy farmer in our town who was well known for taking people’s wives and also sleeping around with helpless widows.
Rumors once had it in town that Chief Ochiriozua poisoned a certain Mr Ndukaku, a primary school teacher whose wife was having extramarital affairs with Chief Ochiriozua. People started suspecting something fishy when Chief Ochiriozua remarried Ndukaku’s wife only a year after his death.
My mother had gone to become one of his collections of concubines. She kept referring to me as a son of the devil incarnate. And I wondered, “what kind of mother would abandon a child she carried in her womb for 9 months?”
The manner they both abandoned me made me feel so heartsick. I wondered if they were truly my parents or I was picked up from a refuse dump. I was then left at the mercy of Uncle Uchendu, my father’s immediate elder brother, who reluctantly agreed to take me in.
“I’m very disappointed at your father and his wife for this level of irresponsibility, I mean just look at…” Uncle Uchendu complained bitterly, wearing the face of a really frustrated man.
His rickety motorcycle with which he had come to carry me was not helping matters either. By the we got to his house, I thought I would die of body pains.
Uncle Uchendu brought me to his home which already had his wife, 7 children and two dogs living together in a two room face me, I face you shanty in a ghetto area of the city. The looks on everyone’s faces made it crystal clear to me that I was not welcome there. The children, my cousins perhaps thought I had come to compete with them for space and the scarcely available food. They all looked at me like I was a disease. Even the hungry looking dogs began to bark angrily at me, to express their displeasure with my presence.
When Uncle Uchendu’s wife saw me, she did not hide her anger.
“So, you finally brought this boy home, eeh kwa? You are not even able to feed your own children well and send them to school. And you’re adding another wahala to our problems.Okay, we shall see.” She ranted angrily at her husband.
The woman looked like the boss of the house. And with the way she sounded, I could tell that both my uncle and myself were in for some serious problems. It dawned on me that I had gone from my parent’s fry pan to my uncle’s wife’s real fire.
My uncle wasn’t exactly the example of a great father. But he was a lot better than my own so called father by all standards. He showed some level of kindness towards me. I don’t think life could have been so bad if not for his wife, the Jezebel.
Food was scarce and when came, it wasn’t enough to go round. At my fourth month with them. My uncle made it clear that he could not send me back to school. There was no money. Rather he decided that I would join my mates in the street for what he called ‘hustling’ until he figured out what exactly he would do with me.
That was how I became a street hawker, instead of being in school. I have been hawking pure water for the past three years now, as payment for shelter and food Uncle Uchendu gave me.
Part 3 will be out on Friday. Please tell us your thoughts and share.
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