Tales of a year: the Lagos dream 2

Mrs Okekene did not know what to do about her husband. Ever since the harvest celebration it seemed that he had been transported into another realm. All he could talk about when he did talk was Lagos; he suddenly began to complain about the fact that there was no meat in his soup while his younger sister could afford to buy a whole goat. He then stopped going to his farm, claiming that it was telling on his health. At this point she decided to speak up.
“What is going on with you?” she asked him one evening as he sat idly with a dreamy expression on his face.
He looked on at her debating whether he should dare to share his dreams with her or not. He decided to take the risk and said:
“Let us relocate to Lagos” he said calmly
“What? Lagos? To do what? Where would we live? What about the children?”
Okekene laughed, he had expected this. “I will go first, get settled and then send for you”
“God forbid! That’s what Mama Goodness’ husband said to her seven years ago and he hasn’t set foot in this village ever since. You’re not going!”

He pleaded with her for weeks, trying to make her see reason with his plan. He painted the picture of the life they would live; their children would eat meat, they would be able to afford a television, she could have her own shop, he would start his own business, but she refused. As far as she was concerned, her husband didn’t have what it took to be successful in a place like Lagos; he was barely literate and didn’t have the stamina to hustle like he would be required to. Besides, she had seen a vision that showed her that he would not be successful. She didn’t understand what had happened to make him so intent on fulfilling this fantasy about Lagos.

One morning she woke up to find him gone; he had packed his few clothes and left a five hundred naira note on his side of the bed. She picked up the money and sighed, she could not believe that he had actually left and with just five hundred naira for their upkeep. How was she to care for the children?

She got her children ready for school, dropped them off, then headed out to her mother-in-law’s. She was equally surprised that her most dedicated child had made such a rash decision. Unlike her daughter-in-law however she knew what had prompted it, she had seen his morose look on the day of the celebration and noted that they had returned home with their food basket. She was worried, Okekene was not like Ohaha who was not only very ambitious but daring enough to do whatever needed to be done. He was soft-hearted and complacent, how would he survive? She consoled her weeping daughter-in-law and promised to do her best to support her.

Okekene got to Lagos and located his friend Charles’ address. He stood aimlessly at the park, wondering where the houses were. He walked into the park office and asked the attendant for his friend. The man however requested for money for his information which Okekene didn’t have. So, he had to wait indefinitely until around nine when he saw the silhouette of his friend alighting from a bus bare-chested with his shirt slung on his muscular shoulder.
“Charles” he called out
“Okeke!” he replied surprised, “What are you doing here?” he asked
“I came to see you my brother, I’ve left our village in search of a better life” he said tiredly
“And where do I come in?” Charles asked irritably, he could see where this was going.
“I want to stay with you, show me the ropes until I get a place of my own.”
“Stay with me?” Charles laughed. “I don’t have a place to stay and even if I did, I won’t take you in because here in Lagos it’s every man for himself. Find somewhere else to stay.”

Okekene was stunned and suddenly afraid, he had just twenty naira in his pockets. Where was he to go?

He woke up stiff the next morning, his body sore from sleeping on the bare floor that Charles had to pay for. Charles was nowhere to be found this morning, he was alone. He placed his head between his hands remembering that his wife had predicted this very thing.

Suddenly he heard the noise of women getting on the back of a truck already laden with tomatoes and pepper. The driver had started the engine. He moved closer and asked where they were going.
“Ibadan” one of them said
Okekene hopped on to the truck, he had no idea where he was going, all he knew was that he couldn’t stay in Lagos.

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