In the early morning, there was a charred sunrise, and the draught of the season harmattan penetrated through the window ledge. I was perplexed. And the leaden cock began to crow. It bugged me. And suddenly, I heard a heavy knock on the door. But I knew Mama was at the kitchen to perform her early rite – to prepare meal for the household. The knock at the door kept coming as if the mangled louvers were about to break. I hissed. And Mama peeped from the kitchen to wave me to open the door. Although, I grumbled to her request and it was such a kind of a slouching feeling for me to open the door as the morning sleep was still calling me. I yawned. But I stood up forcefully to open the door.
When I opened the door, I had a detestable feeling to who was at the door and I frowned but, the vendor handover the copy of Papa’s newspaper to me. And as soon as I collected the newspaper, he began to press his bicycle horn meticulously.
I looked at him as if he was helpless. Even I sneered at him with a shrewd face. Afterwards, I buried my face at the headline because when I was in school during my elementary days to news writing, my lecturer had told us to bury our face on newspaper headline; so that we identify the kicker and the rider. And since then, that spirited words kept a space in my cranium. I looked for the kicker and rider as if I was navigating a space in democracy. It was always sanguine to me.
What amazed me was that, we have another election coming, and the electoral law is becoming a discourse. It is disinterested for a society like ours to not have a proper electoral law by this time when election is fast approaching. When I looked at this newspaper, guess what? I saw the headline with an italic font, and I read aloud: THE ELECTION WOULD BE HELD FORTHNIGHT
‘What!’ Mama responded hurriedly from the kitchen.
‘The vendor has brought the newspaper’’ I told her in a jocular manner.
‘Has your father seen the newspaper?’ she asked with a curious attention. But I ignored her so that I could read the headline.
‘Go and give your father the byzantine newspaper’’ she cautioned me with a ruthless voice. But, I sat on the sofa chair closer to the centred table, and I read the newspaper with so much attention. I read from page to page. And later, I began to skip those uninteresting stories in the newspaper. I soused. I was supine at the sofa chair and I read the article on politics. Meanwhile, do you know what? The article was written by a clandestine writer. The narration was immersed. I felt the writer should be one of those men who came to our house one certain time to convince Papa to join politics. So, do you know what Papa did? He cajoled the man to wait at the living room. And the innocent man waited as if he was waiting for a visa. He began to sweat fleecily. Though, Papa came out with boiled water, and he sprinkled his face with the water. Then I began to see Papa as someone who hates politics.
‘Papa, why do you act like this?’
‘What is politics in this society? Every four years we elect them into office and they still turn the electoral process to a brooding story and they are purloined’
‘But I love politics’ I told him in a fretting way. He looked at me and he smeared. I notice the meaning of what he had done. And I began to cough copiously to his countenance.
‘None of my children will love politics. Politics is dreadful. It is spectre. In fact those who participate in it don’t know the consequence of what they are doing to their family’
‘What are they doing to their family’ I asked him in a salubrious manner. But I was mesmerised concerning what he had said.
He stared at me after he had poured the man the hot water……
Although, I was comfortable reading the newspaper at the sofa, when I heard the smell of Papa’s chillum pipe. It came from his room straight to my nostril like a warning that he was awoke. I jerked up. I rearranged the living room. I dusted the almanac calendar on the shelf. I swept the floor. Later I sat to read the article again because my mind was already enthralled with the writer’s style of writing. As soon as I began to read with seriousness, I heard Papa’s hoarse voice from his room, and then I was fretful. I dropped the newspaper. And continue my sweeping, but, he didn’t come out. Then I sat with half of my buttock on the sofa to begin to read the article. I was fascinated with the writing which went thus:
This is another election period, but I want you to believe that, as I write this article, many of you, of whom, have paid his/her price to let the election be chaotic. Although, you should know that this election is for us to deter a new administration and for you to traverse a new edge for your offspring. Even for you that are already vindictive, do hear what the novelist, Isidore Okpewko has written in his novel, the last duty: ‘’ Sorrow too wears strange shapes, transforming contours of joy into feature of ugliness and despair’’
And, considerably, what you should do is that, by now, you should vote wisely so that you won’t entrap into malevolence because this election is for you to determine the future. Thus, what a subaltern citizen like you need – is to fight for justice and to create enabling environment for yourself
Though, election is frolic. It is sometime holistic; but you should be aware that what kills a cockroach could definitely kill the owner of the house.
I grinned to the write-up. My laughter woke Mama’s consciousness from the kitchen. I was worried on what the writer had seen to write the article. To me, I felt excited to have read something of such from the newspaper. When I was to continue reading, Mama shouted my name: Teruku
‘Mama!!!’ I replied her in a melodious way
‘What are you still doing with the newspaper?’ she asked with a soft voice. But I refused to give a reply. I was silent.
‘Don’t you know your father wants to read the newspaper?’
I kept mute. And later, she drew me closer to her and gave me a knock on my head. I held the head and began to cry frivolously. I was whimpering. She put her hand on her mouth as a symbol for me to stop crying. From afar, I heard the scoop of water from Papa’s room, and I ran to the living room to rearrange the newspaper.
‘You should have not done that this morning and you will smell you ass’ Mama replied me with sarcasm.
‘Can’t I read the newspaper? ‘I asked her ruefully
She refused to reply as she was busying washing the plates we used for dinner. Though she began to sing the choir hymn in our church; but her voice was not sonorous. It was not even soprano or tenor. I laughed.
And guess what? Papa saw me laughing at her…. and that morning, I smell my ass like Mama had said. Then, I began to wonder maybe she was a soothsayer. He looked at me with a discreet. And he went to the kitchen to take a cup of coffee. I was even confused on what he would do unto me. In fact, I was ambivalent.
‘Has he brought the newspaper?’ He asked Mama
Immediately I heard that I squinted. I was disillusioned on what Mama would tell him concerning the paper I had read. He was too strict. Trust me; he didn’t want us to read the newspaper so that we should not know about the politics. But I always squirm, so that I could read article that is poignantly written. I felt unscrupulous to read because he had warned me not to read newspaper.
‘Where is the newspaper?’ he asked me with a suspicion that I have read it.
And I was stammering. He then drew me and began to interrogate me on reading the newspaper. I was a prowler as he began to act awkwardly because I had read the paper
‘Just convince me why you read the newspaper?’ he began to froth as he was asking me certain questions on why I had read the newspaper.
‘Haven’t i told you not to read the newspaper?’
I was panicking. My body was shivering because I knew he would deal with me for disobeying his rules. And I began to distrust myself for reading the newspaper; to the extent that, I felt remorseful.
‘I have warned you severally that you don’t need to read the newspaper’
‘You have told me sir’ I replied.
‘And why do you now read the newspaper this morning? Just tell me what prompted you to have read the paper’
‘I read the newspaper because the headline is fascinating. It is catchy and witty’
I was surprised with the kind of usurpation he had given me because I had read the newspaper. He looked at me to the extent that he kept mute. Even his eyes were all over me. Later he left me alone. And do you know what now happened? We began to talk politics and the headline we started with first. Though, he looked at me scornfully.
‘But, I have warned you not to get involved in politics’
‘And why do you now read the newspaper?’
‘See, politics is not good at all. It is tortuous to the populace. The elite enjoy the dividend while the proletarians cry every four years. Please, don’t do politics because politicians die sorrowfully’
As soon as he finished conversing, I showed him the article I had read in the newspaper. And he smeared. To the extent that he rubbed his greased hands on my head.
‘You feel this is right?’
‘This writer is a politician. All he is doing is sympathy campaign. Have you forgotten the man who came to the house some time ago?’
‘Yes— I remember the man. And what is sympathy campaign?’
‘This is a process whereby the candidacy will be heartfelt through a keen approach. The people will be convinced to vote for such candidate because of his/her efficacy. Therefore, what politicians in this society do is to speak as propagandists. I strongly believe that, nobody here understands the politics of whom we are practicing because if truly we do; we will take our structure back to the drawing board’
‘Papa, everybody can’t buy your ideology’
‘I know they can’t buy my ideology because politics doesn’t want truth. Truth is rancour in politics. No politician will ever speak the truth because what he or she wants is to steal the mind of the populace to win a public institution and forget what he/she has once promised during electioneering campaign’
‘My dear son, don’t let anybody fool you. Politics in this our stealthy society is a trifle of agony and multifaceted pain’
From the kitchen, I began to smell the aroma of what Mama was cooking. He noticed my attention was on the food and he took his spectacle and began to read the newspaper with slowness.
‘Do you know this election will favour us?’ I asked him. He looked at me and he hissed.
Then I repeated the question:
‘Do you know this election will favour us?’
‘Election is fallacy. It is a blab since we have refused to adhere to the structure of our masters’.
‘Who are the masters’ I asked furiously
‘The British introduced the Indirect Rule. And this system is similar to parliamentary system of government. Where everybody will participate in the governance and information and constituency benefit will be reached to everybody’.
I muttered. And I said this is not the United Kingdom.
‘Our structure here is not presidential system because it is very expensive for a nation of ours to practice since we don’t have respect for liberty. No law is being respected even with the rule of law. It has become an aggrieved system of pain and all sort of subterfuge in our milieu’.
Mama served the meal on the dinner table. She used the ceramic plate for Papa and she used the broken plate to serve my meal. I was gleeful as I saw the meal on the table because I was already famished.
‘Your meals are ready’ she said.
I didn’t allow her to even finish talking before I rushed to the table. It was concoction rice with fried fish. I was dissatisfied but I had no choice not to eat the food.
And later, I began to eat the food with half amusement.
‘Can’t you pray before you eat?’ she cautioned.
As I was eating, I looked at Papa’s face and I laughed at myself. Moreover, I never knew Mama saw me laughing.
‘What is the cause of your laughter while eating’ she interrogated me but I kept mute and continue eating my food.
‘Do you know the Councillor is coming for campaign today?’ she told Papa.
‘Yes. I know, he is coming to give you two cups of rice and a thousand naira to buy your conscience for another four years. And you will become surveillance to that administration for those four years. See, I don’t have time to hear words from inconsequential people who don’t understand the people’s need’.
‘Papa, you are derogatory with your words’ I attacked him from where I was eating.
‘Politics is good. It is the right of the citizen to perform their suffrage. I love to witness this election because the people will know who truly want to rule them. This election is a chance for us to move forward in this society; whereby, all kind of indiscipline and misplaced priority will be reshaped for another four years’, Mama said.
‘Enough! What do you know about politics you this woman? Do you think politics is the way you see it from the outer surface? It is a game of numbers and it is being played by the mafias who don’t have empathy for the citizen’.
‘They build schools. They build hospitals. They even provide social amenities’ I said.
‘These are basic structure that every society should have. They fail to put the economy in shape because politicians will always want to use that to campaign in other election.’
‘That is a blatant lie’, mother said.
‘Let see what this new counsellor will do. Maybe he/she will prove Papa’s wrong?’ I said.
‘I hope so. You better read your book and become elite if you want to enjoy the dividend of this woeful democracy’ Papa said.