No condition is Permanent: In the 90s we had this neighbour, a very quiet man from somewhere in the east. He had a rather large family; 7 kids of his own and 2 that were sent to him from the countryside by relatives. They lived in the next apartment after ours.
Our neighbour was poor, but so was everyone else who lived in that compound. It was a hard time for everyone.
Fathers sat at night around a transistor radio to listen to the news and to jaw around about a certain despot who was the president at the time. I forget the details of those years rulers now.
That quiet neighbour of ours was not so quiet when it came to having children. In those fiery days, he would still knock his wife up almost every year as if he had something special to say and children were the best and loudest way to say it.
He expressed himself so fluently with 7, even sized kids.
In that harsh year of 93, his wife was expressing in clear language, a proud mound of pregnancy again. Neighbours began to express their own concern for the pale looking woman. “Oga Pious, e never do?” Mr. Pious only smiled.
Sometimes half of his children are sent home from school for unpaid fees; the eldest son who was as strong as a bull might beat up some other kid and the father of that kid comes to claim damages. And so on. Their trouble never seems to end.
Mr. Pious had only one daughter who brought him as much joy as she brought him sorrow. I remember her name, Ngozi.
She was tall for her age, light-skinned, shapely and very pretty. Ngozi could sell anything. For a time, she hawked groundnuts. Some say she was so good at selling, so much that, if you weren’t looking Ngozi would sell your child to you.
She also liked boys a lot. She went after them and they came after her. It was a tug of war. It became unclear who wanted to kill who, the boys or Ngozi.
When she got pregnant, she had no idea who it was that put it there. She had gone around too many boys.
Neighbours were angry; her mother was embarrassed. Her dad only smiled.
Not long after, one evening not very different from this one, news came that our neighbour’s wife was putting to bed at the hospital. Mr Pious ran over there.
News spread faster than ringworm and neighbours were always about other peoples business than they cared for theirs half the time. So it didn’t take long before further updates filtered down to the compound.
Mama Ngozi has had quadruplets.
“What’s a quadruplet?” Someone inquired.
That’s five shidren at once, someone provided.
“No o, ah ahn, tha is four shidren o.” Someone more informed chimed.
There were shouts of joy and the people quickly set about celebrating even though they hadn’t seen the quadruplets. Some of this folks have never even seen an instance of quadruplets before.
At the hospital there was trouble. Mr. Pious had suddenly vanished after the doctors gave him his bill.
The doctors and nurses couldn’t believe it. His wife was crying and inviting her ancestors from where ever they were to please, find her husband and strike him dead for deserting her.
The doctors soon left the woman to attend to other things. It seemed someone important was visiting the hospital.
No one knew where Mr. Pious had gone. But it was pretty much obvious why he had run off. The bills.
Well, back at the hospital something strange had happened. The bills that sent Mr. Pious AWOLing into the blue has been paid by the Oyo state governor who had come to check the state of things at that hospital.
Mama Ngozi started crying, asking for her husband.
They found Mr. Pious hiding in his cassava farm. They told him everything has been taking care of and that the governor of the state wanted to meet him.
Everything that happened after that was like a dream.
Its been more than 20 years now.
I met Ngozi the other day. She now has her own family and looking well off.
She said her dad still does the spare parts business he started with the money that the government gave him. And her mom, well, she’s on a business trip to Dubai.
No condition is permanent.
About the writer - Samuel Otareri Samuel is a creative writer who likes to talk about love and social issues using his creative writing to trigger emotional consciousness in Nigerians. A lover of his woman, Samuel believes in using one's creativity as a tool for social change.