“Ikenna, are you that daft?” Chief Uzoma roared on phone. “Don’t you know when someone doesn’t want to pick your call?” Ikenna, his third child who was in the university, had been intermittently and consistently making effort to reach him since morning all to no avail. He thought it wise to take the apparent disturbing phone calls at this time being 5.00pm just to avert further ‘embarrassments’. “If you dare call this line again,” he rode on in a jiffy. “I bet you, you would regret knowing me as your father.” He forcefully landed, quickly cut the call on the chap. It was in the previous day being Friday that Chief B. U. Uzoma got the report that the 20-year-old Ikenna was currently living with a female colleague in his school apartment.
The undergraduate who was a second year student of Architecture wasn’t aware that such notice had gotten to his father’s desk, thus was so devastated over the abrupt weird attitude being displayed by the 61-yearold Nigerian. He had as well tried getting in touch with his darling mum, Ifeoma but her phone was malfunctioning at the moment. She could not take any incoming call owing to the anomaly but Ikenna had assumed that she was equally avoiding him. All these complications had almost resulted to nervous wreck. The poor dude was left with no other option than to prepare his baggage towards visiting home. Thank God it was weekend, Saturday precisely, so he had all the time in the world to depart from the campus till the following Monday.
The institution was about fifteen kilometres (15km) away from his home and the distance required two transits if the traveller was meant to commute in a public vehicle. “My son, living with a woman?” Chief Uzoma soliloquized as he stood alone in his house lounge the moment he cut the call on Ikenna. “Could it be real?” he added, tried to walk round the enclosed arena and never minded that the television sited before him was switched on. In a few seconds time, his wife Ifeoma walked in, and smartly observed that all was not well with him. “Honey,” she called as she stood by the door. “What is eating you up?” she tendered, walked to the centre table, took the remote and lowered the TV’s volume to the barest minimum. Chief Uzoma hastily turned on hearing the question.
Hmm….!” he exclaimed, walked to a seat and sat down. “My dear, don’t mind me.” He urged as he was loosely seated in the multiple-coloured cushion. Ifeoma was yet to know that her son was reportedly residing with a lady. Maybe this was the apt moment for her to receive the information from the apparently demoralized father of five. She stepped closer to him and sat in the seat sited closely to his. “What did you mean by that?” she enquired. “Isn’t it obvious that you look very disturbed?” She thought aloud, fixing her gaze on his. “Disturbed?” he asked rhetorically. “Please dear,” she said. “Stop this pretence.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” He said in false pretences. “You don’t know what I am talking about?” she echoed. “Of course,” quoth Chief Uzoma. “Because, there is nothing wrong with me.” He said, took a breath. “Just that I had a very stressful day.” he contrived hesitantly. “A very stressful day?” “Yes,” replied the titled chief. “My day was so hectic.” “Okay ooh.” She surrendered, raised the TV’s volume with the remote in her right hand. Perhaps he was of the view that she need not know about the circumstance, or maybe that wasn’t the right time for disclosure. Whatever the case could be, the fact remained that he would at a time surely let the cat out of the bag. When the information filtered in yesterday while he was seated in his private office, Chief B. U. Uzoma thought it was a mere joke or something targeted towards pulling his legs, little did he know that the informant truly meant it.
“What..?” he exclaimed at the top of his voice while seated when the information via phone call sounded more serious. “Oh, my God…!” he added, stood up. “Uncle, this is happening here on campus.” The informant, Okey added. “I wish you are here to see things for yourself.” Okey who made the call just to send the notice across, was Chief Uzoma’s nephew. He was begotten by the Chief’s married younger sister and was school ing in the same university with Ikenna, though in a different department. Since that previous day the information came to him, he had been psychologically and mentally unstable but till this moment, had never bothered to hear directly from the accused chap, or consider paying him a surprise visit toward ascertaining the genuineness of the notice. Neither had him made up his mind to share the story with his lovely wedded wife, Ifeoma who had ab inito remained his best friend in any matter on ground let alone this very one that concerned their biological son. “Lest I forget,” quoth Ifeoma as they were closely seated right in the lounge.
“Ikenna has been trying to reach me but my phone is bad.” she disclosed, paused. “Please, has he called you?” Chief Uzoma shook his head reluctantly. “No.” he managed to utter. “Honey, why are you acting this way?” Ifeoma ranted. “I am talking about your son here.” “My son..?” he said, looking into her eyes. “That is not my son.” “What…?” “You heard me right.” Therein, Ikenna walked in with a brief luggage. “Hey mum!” he exclaimed elatedly, stepped towards the couple. “Hey, that’s my boy…!” Ifeoma responded on sighting him, hastily stood up. She graciously walked to and hugged him enthusiastically. “Dad?” the chap called, looking at his father who was still firmly seated. Chief Uzoma didn’t respond. “Your son is greeting you.” The wife reminded, looking down to him. “Mitchew…!” the Chief sighed, stood up and dashed into his matrimonial room. To be continued, please!
• Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri
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