It was an usually sunny school day in April. Todays spectators sitting in the bleachers had to endure the scorching sun of Ondo as they watched the long anticipated soccer match between Lakunle Secondary school, a secondary school in ondo state that couldn’t have possibly lost a soccer match to save their lives and Elizade University, one of the leading private universities in sports. The soccer match was part of the universitys efforts towards community service and creating awareness for the school in the state. It was a friendly match, but friendly or not friendly, Lakunle secondary school wasn’t having failure as an option, and Chigozie was the star of this show.
From the very second the match started, he had exhibited skills that could rival that of Ronaldo on his home pitch. His dribbling skills were peculiar to him, and his score record was presently the highest on that pitch. Having Chigozie on their team, Lakunle Secondary School was sure to take home the trophy and the cash price.
The score board read 3 – 3. Chigozie had scored two goals out of the three for his school, the other was from Seun, his best friend. Either teams needed just one more goal to be the winner and the match was to end in 60 seconds. The greater portion of the crowd gathered at the stadium were audibly rooting for Lakunle Secondary School, specifically for Chogozie.
“Chigozie! Chigozie! Chigozie!” A group chanted continuously.
“All we are saying, give us more goals!” Another section of spectators chanted.
“LSS! LSS! LSS!” Yet another group.
“Chi boy! chi boy! chi boy!” Excited classmates of chigozie chanted.
20 seconds more and the match would be over. Chigozie had no space for draws. He made sure his brain didnt know what failure or draws were. In fact, his dictionary didn’t even recognise those words. All he cared about was that his school had to win this match and he was just the man for the job.
With his mind set and his muscles ready, his brain set to work and assessed the space before him. He moved with speed and calculating precision towards the goal post.
One of his teammates had kicked the beaten and battered ball in his direction. It didnt take long for his strong feet to reach the ball. He dribbled left, dribbled right. Dodging his heavily built opponents, he had a clear view of the goal post.
His right leg swung backwards, ready to kick the ball and score the winning goal. He kicked the ball, and it swooshed forward, passed the efforts of his opponents and his teammates. There was a roar all around the stadium, the crowd was going wild, and then…
“Chigozie!” A very familiar female voice called in his head, in a whisper.
The ball still hadn’t reached the goal post.
“Chigozie!” The voice callled again, much louder this time.
Chigozies heart beat faster and louder. The ball was still in motion.
Why hadnt the ball reached the goal post yet? He thought.
“Chigozie!” Came the voice again, harsher this time, loud and clear. His eyes sprang open. He sat up sharply, his chest was rapidly rising and falling. The sharp pang of pain on his back told him he had been slapped back into reality out of dream land. More like almost slapped into oblivion.
“Chigozie!” This time he recognised the voice. His little sister, Ngozi, was the one intruding into his afternoon sleep. It was her 11 year old hands that had dealt the slap that almost reset his brain.
He sprang up from the bed, nearly falling off.
“What what what whaaat?!” He hissed short and sharp in frustration. He never got to score that goal. “What do you want Ngozi?”
The not so little eleven year old looked at him with her signature bored look. Her threaded hair was sticking out in awkward places, and she wasn’t exactly feeling sorry for waking her elder brother from a sleep he obviously wanted to continue.
“Mummy said you should come and go to Oja Oba and tell Mummy Dupe that she should give you one small tin tomatoes and hundred naira broken tomatoes that she’s not selling again.” Without another word, Ngozi turned and left his room.
Chigozie’s heart sank for the umpteenth time. His mother was sending him again to take things from Mummy Wusilat without paying. He never told her all the horrible things the other market women called her. How they referred to them in their family, despite the fact that they were all a stone throw away from Chigozie’s family situation.
“Enemies of progress!”
In all ramifications, Chigozie hated taking things on credit. Not because he was too proud to beg, but because he knew they were runniing down someone else’s means of livelyhood. It was also a constant reminder of how poor they were. How much they were always in need and never seemed to have enough to live by.
Hand to mouth…
Hand to mouth…
That’s how they lived.
His mother always told him that he and his sister were the last hope of the family, but more importantly him. He was the one to first get lunched into the world to pave a better way for his poor family. His mother was already too old to do anything meaningful to turn things around, except she wanted to be a prostitute. She couldn’t also turn her eleven year old daughter into another mans sixth wife, or worse still, send her abroad to look for work like their neighbors suggested.
The thing was that their neighbors never saw the money their daughters supposedly sent to Nigeria. It always baffled Chigozie how the parents were still so gullible. Him and his mother already knew the type of work their neighbors’ daughters were doing. They didn’t want their beloved Ngozi to turn to a sex toy in a strange land or anywhere for that matter.
Chigozie finally got up from the bed, got dressed and rode his bicycle out of the face-me-I-face-you compound that they lived in, and went on his way to Oja Oba market. He already steeled himself, and readied his shock and insult absorber for the insults he would surely receive from those market women.
As he rode down Alagbaka road, he redecided that he wasn’t going to let his family suffer. The scholarship he got at LSS was just the beginning. He would work hard towards bringing them all out of the vicious cycle of living in poverty.
PUFF PUFF PUFF
He blew out the smoke in circles.
PUFF PUFF PUFF
He blew more out again.
Soon, he got tired of smoking the same cigar and threw the rest out the window.
A mad mans free smoke. He thought. It was almost time to drive out anyway. No need for distractions.
Adeola perused his reflection in the side mirror of the lorry. The bottom part of his face, from the bridge of his nose down, was covered with a black ski mask. His eyebrows were bushy. It had been long since he did anything to tidy it up.
His fingernails were long and had deep-seated dirt stuck down the nails.
His hair looked as unkempt as the next madman on the street.
His nearly grey eyes were focused, disturbed, and haunting. The eyes of a man that had snuffed out the lives of many.
Check back on Monday for part 2.
Let me know your thoughts on this in the comment section!
Click here to read part 2: https://thecreatorspen.wordpress.com/2018/04/23/dollar-bill-pt-2-a-story/
Click here to read part 3:https://thecreatorspen.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/dollar-bills-pt-3-a-story/