(A chronicle of brushes with nature, fate, and inexplicable happenings; this story will run for the next three weeks)
‘Welcome….my son’, his mother greeted and wrapped her warm arms around him, consoling him in the process. ‘Ah my son, don’t worry, we will find solution to this your plight’, she began to assure him. ‘God did not make you like this and I believe He will intervene’, she further told him. ‘Go and shower, while I make food for you; you must be hungry and tired from your long journey’. On seeing his mother, a surge of excitement and hope ran through Johnbull’s heart but he still could not put a good smile on his face.
When he tried, he felt his face hardened as if frowning; and in a show of bravado, to hide his obvious fear, he whispered to himself ‘common John…you are more than this…you sit up man!’ Time was now getting to 6pm in the evening when they arrived home; Johnbull was conscious that he had no penny in his pocket. That added up to his frustration. The fact is, several years after graduating and leaving the house in search of the proverbial greener pasture in Lagos, if all he could boast of was this tattered dress and a worn out travelling bag and then having to arrive back in his father’s house where he left in the first instance, there was no way he could relax; an ugly smile broke out in his face and he gripped his hands tightly muttering inaudible words.
Yet his mind raced through several thoughts and he shuddered to imagine this was happening to him. The truth is, he had been reduced to a beggarly level where his mother would now have to pay for his fares back instead of him proudly dishing out the stuff to her. ‘Damn, what a shame’, he whispered to himself. Had he the power and knowledge, he would have tackled this problem; but here he was clueless! Before he decided to hit the road to Benin, he had been boxed into a tight corner. It was clear whatever he touched ended badly until debts had piled up and the noose tightened around his neck. And from the little he had been told, they said dark forces were responsible for his plight; but from where? That was the problem.
Johnbull knew there was something trying to drag him down whenever he stepped out. But Though invisible, the force’s appeared real. Often, he met with a brick wall even after negotiating a sure deal the previous day. And this mystery continued until he was left with no option than to seek help. He wasn’t to know whether he had been singled out for special punishment though. Now, sitting on his bed, Johnbull shivered; his face was white and he had to punch the empty air to assure himself that he was still in control. ‘Damn ’, he cried out—muttering to himself. ‘You have got to brace up’, he said to himself’.
But it was an empty brag as the tiny ball of fear in his stomach swiftly returned. At that point, his mother walked in and said to him ‘your food is ready, please come and eat’, she urged him and added ‘You will be ok!’ Because he had lost confidence on himself, he stood up like an old man and dragged his legs to move. He was only 42 years of age and he felt as though the whole world was tumbling down his head. Don’t forget, a man without money is considered “dead on arrival” otherwise known as “DOA” unless he can ‘perform’ or is loaded with the stuff. Of course, his friends had all deserted him and even made him the subject of mockery—which is not unexpected anyway. ‘You know that guy is broke’, they would say, but quickly change the subject on his appearance and pretend to sympathize with him.
Nevertheless, Johnbull managed to get downstairs to the dining table, where his mother had prepared his favorite dish, of vegetable soup and pounded yam. Just when he sat down to eat, his phone rang and the caller apparently said something pertaining to debt, which instantly drained the blood out of him and caused his appetite to vanish; shaken, a grim expression crossed his face and he became pale. On noticing that, his mother rushed to his side asking ‘what’s the matter, my son, who called you? Johnbull opened his mouth to answer, but nothing came out; he tried again….