Ekwueme Memorial has always been rated as one of the best. It was an instrumental place for students of great minds and was a vital place for survival. Obiajulum was going to be among the many students given the privilege to study at this prestigious school. Although he wasn’t so pleased with the change of environment, he still had to go since there wasn’t anything he could do.
“We have arrived.” Ozoemena said to his son’s hearing.
Obiajulum could only stare while his father handed his belongings to him. He found his voice still, and asked why his mother was unable to come.
“Do not forget what your mother and I have been teaching you,” His father made to change the subject.
“The morals we’ve instilled, everything—he stressed—’DO NOT FORGET'”
Obiajulum nodded his head in agreement.
Ozoemena went further to advise his son on always being kind, reminding him once again, about the family he came from.
“Your mother and I are very proud of you.” he ended, bidding him goodbye.
Obiajulum got settled in his new school and had no hard time making friends. It was this one girl who he didn’t want socializing with. Her name was Adanne—one of the smartest student in their form. Obiajulum saw Adanne as a rival and despised her for always wanting to be in the lead. She wants the lead, hm? thought Obiajulum one day—I’ll show her who’s in charge, the young lad chuckled to himself, determined not to let anyone get in his way.
“Now’s our chance—” said the chief priest to the elders.
They had long had their eyes on the boy right from infancy. If not for the oracle who had helped reveal where he was, they would have searched for long and gotten no positive result.
The same oracle who had revealed the mystery child also gave specific instructions not to touch the boy, or else they came prepared.
The chief priest knew this was the right time to strike. He had long waited for this day and here it was.
“Ahugwanle-la. Ahugwanle-la. Ahugwanle-la. Ahugwanle-la.”
The twelve elders chanted along, each clothed in white and having chalk drawings on their arms and chests; their faces mapped with charcoal, and feet stained red. To each a staff was given; the staffs representing the sun (purity), and the charcoal imprinted—the moon (darkness). These staffs were to be driven into the soil while the elders stood before each they owned. The demon loosed upon the earth must not live past this day—the elders continued chanting, not until a signal was passed for them to stop. The clouds pulled together, as if receiving the signal given, and darkness befell. The earth quaked as thunder and lightning crashed, signalling there was no much time left. Ukpaka gave out an angry cry from where he stood, and a monstrous wind came sweeping him off.
Adanne sat in her usual spot (near the front center of the classroom), reading her English textbook, while she quietly chewed her gum.
Obiajulum made to where she was seated, taking notice of what she had in her mouth, as he grinned and said, “I pity someone when Mrs Obemena comes,”
The young girl shivered with fear and took the gum out of her mouth. “What do you want?” her eyes met with his. “Why won’t you stop bothering me?” a glare found her face as she asked.
Obiajulum scoffed at her question and made to sit beside her. “She’s always reading,” he stuck out his tongue, the mockery held in his voice, sensed by the girl who was already fuming with anger. “Do you always have to frown? Try to smile sometimes.” Obiajulum’s plan was perfectly working. He needed something more to get her filled with rage. If only—a silly thought popped up as a smile settled on his face.
“What’s making you smile?” Adanne looked weirdly at him.
Obiajulum ignored her question and pointed at the textbook in front of her. “Can I have that?” Obiajulum didn’t wait for her to answer before he took the neatly wrapped book and ran out of the classroom.
“Come back here!” Adanne shouted after him, running out to catch up with him.
“That’s a new textbook my parents got me,” she said in a clear modulated voice.
“Try and catch me—”
A non-intentional laugh broke out as she chased after him. “Obiajulum—”
But Obiajulum was too carried away to see what laid in wait for him.
“Ah!” cried the little boy, as he fell and hit his head on the ground.
“Obiajulum!” Adanne screamed, rushing towards him, as they were soon encircled.
“Ọ bụrụ ọgwụ omanle” said one of the teachers in a local dialect, as everyone watched, shocked to see what was going on.
“What happened?” Mrs Obemena questioned on reaching the scene.
“He tripped and fell,” the panic-stricken girl replied.
Mrs Obemena seeing her student sprawled like someone who was dead, had everyone join hands while they rushed the unconscious, bleeding boy to the school clinic.
“Our son will be fine, mama Aju. I know he will be.” Ozoemena consoled his wife.
They had been called by the school immediately the incident happened; the child’s mother unable to hide her fears. They had no money to have him transferred to a hospital in town, else doing so would have been a better option for them.
“My only child—” Ocheole cried bitterly. “What if something happens to my son?” she looked at her husband, her right hand placed on her chest, while the other lapped her bosom.
Ozoemena exhaled and pulled his wife’s into his arms, stopping her from making any further movements. “The gods are not asleep,” he said to her, “They won’t let anything happen to our son.” he assured.
Ocheole sighed, and with eyes shut, restraining tears, prayed that the gods preserved their only child.
“How old is he?” the doctor asked.
“Ten.” a straight answer was given.
“Ten?” the doctor adjusted himself on the chair and leaned forward. “How come he looks much older than ten?” he asked, sounding like one who’s been abroad and back.
“Will our son be fine?” Ocheole inquired, wanting first to know her son’s condition before anything.
The doctor only gave a nod and got his eyes back on the medical report. “Mm,” came the doctor’s voice, as the couple leaned closer to listen. “Your son really needs to be taken to a better hospital,” he stated plainly. “Immediately.” he added, showing how sooner it needed to be done.
Obiajulum’s parents, lost for words, wondered if their son’s condition had grown worse than even the doctor could handle.
“He needs to be taken now or else…”
Obiajulum’s mother burst into tears, not letting the doctor finish.
TO BE CONT’D¶