ARDUOUS QUEST”

‘Marvels, what could be
The motive of his mare’s nest
’he fell into an arduous quest.
In the state of quandary
He bows to fate and declared
“Let the gods desire be”

PHASE ONE

Ibrahim an average tall lanky young man, with pale skin due to starvation, walked day-in-day-out in search of manna to feed his “never satisfied” stomach. He has always been seen eating junks. The peanuts he got from his miniature jobs were always from hand to mouth. People, especially the pedestrians misunderstood and misinterpreted him for a mad man, mostly when he walks through the lanes of the Kaduna market, popularly called “kasuwa, hawking his goods. If not doing other small-scale businesses, he sells combs, which he always carries around. He walks very close to any body to announce his wares, even if they are needed or not. Many times people buy his wares out of pity, not necessarily for the need.

Ibrahim was easily identified by his full-grown hair, which the barber’s scissors could be scared to pierce or penetrate. Most often, he searches for his comb after use, unknown to him it was kept in his hair. The only care on the hair was the regular combing, though turned blond due to dust, lack of nutrient and non-application of hair cream. “Would he have been able to possess a comb even, if not that he sells them?” Someone asked.

One day, he realized that people had began to avoid him because of his squalid look, which became unbearable. Ibrahim, popularly called Ibro had no place he could call home. He had nothing to be proud of except his pair of trousers and shirt, which depicted colonial era. His spoken English was fluent but at times difficult to understand by the common people around him. He was fond of using hard dictions. He finds his way out of trouble with his skills in the use of the language. About five occasions the different joint task forces of police and soldiers came to the market to raid and arrest hoodlums and touts, they picked up Ibro with them, but when they hear him speak, at the point of interrogation and lament they let him go.

He tells anyone that cares to listen to the story of his life at every little attention and kindness shown to him. Many person got to realize that his condition was due to frustration from poverty and the country’s economic state. Ibrahim graduated from the college of education, Zaria where he studied English and Islamic studies. He graduated with an A, B and C in English, Islamic and Education respectively. He is vast in the holy book of Islam, philosophy and other religious books. When approached by some persons who could withstand the odour oozing from his body, they asked him why he carries out certain actions; he got reasonable and logical answers for every question asked.

At a point, he started begging for arms and food when he realised no one would associate with him and buy his wares. He waited for the night to get extremely dark before he finds a place to lay his head, and before dawn, when most of the sellers, merchants and residents were still in their dream world, he wakes up to continue his hustling and hard life which got worse by the day.

He smiles or laughs at himself, especially when he is in his world of imagination. He carries out same routine everyday. He goes out before dawn, only to return at dusk, waiting for another dawn to return to his down trodden and victimised way of life.

In spite of his nature and condition, he displayed kind gesture to people, especially those whom he thought they needed such from him. Ironically, as a good Muslim, he gives alms too. He does mai kaya (carriage man) which he was rewarded with some money. At times, he suggested they shouldn’t bother paying him, but people he helps insisted he collects the reward for his gesture. No person knew much about Ibro, neither his town nor his relatives. He is Hausa by tribe, who speaks Igbo and Yoruba fluently aside English language.

It had just finished raining cat and dog that faithful night when Ibro decided to take a walk as usual around the popular Ahmadu Bello way, before he went to lay his head. Approaching the round about which divides Abuja road into two segments, an exotic flashy Honda car splashed some mud filled water, which settled on the road due to the rain, on him. Ibrahim stopped and examined himself; his murky shirt and trouser have been ruined. He raised his head up to the car decorated with flashy lights, the car honked and zoomed off at an accelerated speed. Ibrahim looked at himself again, his mouth stayed lifeless as his eyes became cloudy and filled with tears ready to burst out like the just finished rain. Tears rolled down his cheeks, he blamed his condition and remained dumb for closely an hour at a spot. For the first time, he realised his condition,“God, what have I done to deserve this?” “Who am I,
God?” He walked further as he asked God more questions as regards his being and existence. They seemed to be rhetorical anyway. He said in perforation, as he got no reply, except for the frequent hoots from cars that split the air with razor-edged and irritated sound.

As usual, he got to his usual place of rest and sleep. Ibrahim dusted the table where Hassana made“kose” at evenings. He referred to the table as his bed and the spread cartons as bed sheet on it. It was unusual for Ibro not to have slept immediately he got there that night. Instead, that night he said a short prayer. Posterior to the prayer; he stood up and took a walk close to the gutter. He paced up and down the edge of the gutter. He searched his mind in an arduous quest for the source of his state and calamity. “God, why?” He asked as he went to lay on his bed and slept off.

PHASE TWO
Ibrahim at the advance of his sleep fell into another world. A world full of total luxury, grandeur, extravagant living, plenty, full of milk and honey, but mixed with corruption, bribery, dishonesty, fraud, misconduct, extortion and profiteering. “Mu go de Allah”. “This is the world I ever dreamt of” “Thank God I’m living in it successfully,” he said.

“So, such a world exists, and I have been suffering?” he said to himself.

Ibrahim established a primary and secondary school, which he registered as HOPE FOR THE NATION NURSERY, PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL. The school is well known and for four years recognised as the best school in the state with quality education where the final year students pass their final examinations, WEST AFRICA EXAMINATION COUNCIL (WAEC) with ease.

In his school, though the students passed with good grades, but when tested through external exams outside the school, they had poor results.
Many guardians and parents registered their wards and children in the school. Parents came to the school to register their wards and children for an assured success in WAEC, after the children must have got a foundation in other schools.

It’s rumoured that Hope… school involved in malpractices, supplied answers to candidates and used “mercenary” during examinations.

The news got to the WAEC board, which with no further delay reported to the police, which carried out effective investigations. The police and the Board agreed that Ibrahim should be paraded on the day when English Language shall be written during the examination.

At the examination centre in the school that morning, all candidates were seated to take their papers. After they had all been given question papers and answer booklets, Ibrahim entered the hall. He had already bribed the WAEC officials who brought the exam papers with thirty-two thousand naira. Ibrahim distributed the answers to the multiple questions to the students. He took a chalk and started writing the answers to the theory part on the chalkboard. Unknown to him, information had reached the security agency as regards his school and the exam.

Suddenly, “operation yaki” Comprising of police, soldiers, and civil defence corps. busted into the school. “Stop that!” one of the teachers shouted to a student in pretence as a sign to call on Ibrahim’s attention having realised the emergence of the forces. It was too sudden and late; and the time was too short for Ibrahim to compose himself before the joint forces stormed and raided the hall and the other parts of the school.
“Arrest him!” one of the senior officials of the WAEC board shouted. A huge police officer brought a handcuff from his belt hole, before Ibrahim realised what’s happening to him, the dark looking police officer behind him bent Ibrahim’s hand backward and placed the handcuff on them.

Ibrahim got little beating and was pushed into the Black Maria van. He had already known his fate. JAIL! His school was closed down; some of his staff were arrested including the corrupt WAEC officials. The students’ results were seized.

“I know my fate already,” he said as he was led down from the Black Maria, with chains on his hand and leggs . He fell to his knees. The gate to Kaduna Maximal Prison was opened to him.

“Oh God! “It’s a nightmare”, Ibrahim said as he jumped up from his longest sleep ever, sweating.

“Wetin do you Ibro? “We don dey wake you since, you no wake up na wetin make us pour you water.”
“We think say you don die o” Asana said

Ibrahim looked at himself, shook his head, and wiped his face with his right palm, jumped down from his so-called bed, and moved away to face his fate.
“I think I prefer my present state than that life in jail…” He said as he moved about doing his business and what fate and the gods desired for him.

THE END.

mai kaya -loads carrier)
kasuwa – market
“kose -(bean cake)”
“mu go de Allah”- thank God
“Operation yaki”- joint task force in Kaduna State, during Gov. Makarafi’s tenure

Posted by ODIN G.A

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