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29.01.2017 Opinion

Hurt But Not Dead

By Gabla Godwin
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He had woken up quite late that morning. His eyes beaming with reserves of sleep and tiredness. Obviously, the wake he had kept the previous night was having a great toll on him now. He had wanted to finish the new short story he wanted to submit for an African short story award so he slept close to three in the morning. As soon as he got out of his room, a heavy slap kissed his face. The weight of the slap threw him back, flat on the ground like corpse.

“You think you can sleep and wake up at any time at all you like?” the owner of the slap questioned.

“No, sir” John answered
“Look, I have been tolerating this laziness for long. I shall be forced to send you out of this house the next time you try this. Ahh! What is it? I shelter you, feed you, clothe you but just wake up, take care of the house and go to the shop, you can’t. If it were that easy, why aren’t you with your good-for nothing parents?”

“I’m sorry, sir. It won’t happen again”

“Sorry for yourself! You close at 8:30 PM yet I don’t know what you do that makes you wake up late in the morning. Now, get up and find something doing.

That was how the quarrel ended that morning. It had obviously become a routine in the house. A day without a quarrel was just as possible as giving birth without a pregnancy. If not a slap, then it was a blow or at best, strokes of belt. John had grown to appreciate Mr. Mintah as his own father which he wasn’t. In spite of the maltreatment given him, he always acknowledged the fact that he had better opportunities living with the man than his own father who sleeps under a shade together with his mother and four other siblings. He would rather die at Mr.Mintah’s than leave himself to rot under the influence of poverty in his biological father’s house.

It was evening that same day when he got back from work. The evening’s meal was served and he devoured a large amount of it. It was his favourite Banku and Okra stew. He had grown up eating that most times while with his parents. A large quantity of the okra with scores of garden egg and two or three pillars of fish were good enough to compliment a big bowl of Banku for John and his family. Sadly, he often gets to stuff down fufu and rice into his belly now for those were the favourites of the Mintahs’. That evening was the first in three months that he was served with Banku and Okra stew and he spared no bit of it!

Now, back to the main issue. John sat behind his laptop (one Mr. Mintah had bought for him on a happy day). He had so much work to do that night and he wasn’t in the mood for any interruption. Off, the light in his room went. That was sure to keep any scavenging human away from his room while he took time to do the final bit of editing for the night. The deadline for submission was 12 noon, the following day and he obviously had no time to spare. He stayed through the night till he had enough confidence and faith that his work had the ability to move mountains and soften the toughest of hearts.

Through the provided email address, John sent his work to be considered for the African Literature Prize for Best Short Story 2015.

Days were offspring of hours, weeks were born and they also grew into months. Three of such months has it been after that day’s event when the story of his life had seen a new change. It was early one morning; John was resting in the shop; a result of a day blessed with dull moments. That day looked as though all their customers were on buying leave. A call came through. A strange number it was. +234 was the prefix and he knew it was from Nigeria. But who could call him from Nigeria? He had no friends there and he knew nobody there so how could someone call him from there? He took the phone but only as far as to watch the screen die off together with the ringtone. It recurred for at least, the first three calls. Then, it occurred to him that it could be something very important even though he had no particular idea in mind. Initially, it struck him that it could be one of those numerous ones who had no better thing to do than game (at least, that’s how they call it). I think it’s called scamming or something of the sort. Courage from nowhere jumped into his heart and he answered the call the next time it came, even before he could watch the screen.

‘Hello, Good morning. Is this Mr. John Kudalor?’

‘yes, please. Who are you and how may I help you?’ John was speaking

‘Sir, I am Amechi Ikechuckwu from the African Prize for Literature Contest in Nigeria’

‘Oh! Oh okay. Good to hear from you’ john said, obviously now picking a clue from what was happening.

‘We had actually received your submission for the short story category and we are glad to inform you that your short story has won in the category. You shall be required to be at the main awards in Johannesburg, South Africa in a month’s time. You shall be awarded with a cash prize of USD15,000 and a scholarship to study literature in any university of your choice in the United Kingdom.’

‘Wow! Wait…wait…wait…. Can you take it slowly one more time? Just repeat everything you said earlier but this time with a slower pace.’ John was saying amidst a sudden smell of glee and gaiety.

‘Mr. John, I can understand the profound joy that comes with such achievements. I shall do you the honour of reporting in same words and clear terms what I said earlier.’ The caller had said before repeating all he had said earlier using the marking scheme assigned him by the man of the moment.

‘Thank you! Thank you,sir. I am very grateful, sir. In fact, I just don’t know what to say. God is good!’ words flew off his mouth like a bullet shot at a bird in the air.

‘You are welcome,sir. You may as well like to check your email for further information on the award. For any inquiry, you may call us via this number. Further information would be sent via your email address on developments regards the award. Best of the day, sir and Congratulations, once again’

‘Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You guys are great! I love Nigeria! Thank you.’ Jonas said before the call dropped dead.

And that was how his story had turned round for the better. How many young men out there had such great talent yet no opportunity to get discovered? How many young women out there had dreams yet could never find the right and fertile grounds to dig? John was a blessed man from birth to have had such glorious opportunity to shoot himself into the eyes of the world. Joy rose like the sun and smoke from burning bushes into the air that filled the entire household of Kudalor when John went to break the news to them. Mr. Mintah and his wife found no face to watch him with when he told them about his decision to leave them based on his success and his departure to South Africa in some days’ time.

Fame and success became the nicknames of the Kudalor family thereof. Those who teased them for having nothing were those who came to them begging for money, foodstuff and others in the present. And that’s how big John had become; A professor of Literature in one of the topmost Universities in the United Kingdom.

So you see, Awards are wonderful opportunities to project young and budding talents to the world and allow the world to have a feel of such talents. That’s why we at Achievers Magazine have decided to brand out this beautiful award scheme dubbed OUTSTANDING YOUNG AFRICANS AWARDS (OYAA 2017). This award seeks to encourage and celebrate innovation and creativity among young people especially those in tertiary institutions across the African continent. This is to enable students and young ones in totality to develop their full potentials so as to become masters of their own and reduce the canker of unemployment. OYAA™ shall be officially launched on 11th February, 2017 at the SMS Auditorium- UCC. The main event however is on the 27th of May, 2017 at the National Theatre, Accra.

For tickets or any further inquiry, call: 0248341613, 0502473683 or 0263073366


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