Dear Dad: Christmas Away from Home

Dear Dad,
I’m in a distant land
And I’m loved;
I’ve got some Christmas cards, boxes and packages,
I’m having fun with friends
Some gradually becoming like family;
But when I hear the bangs
And see the fireworks
I can’t help but think of home.

From Childhood,
Christmas was known for love and homecomings,
Meeting family not seen in a while
And August visitors of course

From Childhood,
Christmas was known for pleasant surprises,
Round family circles and prayers
Rounds of laughter and sarcasms
As we  take turns to tell stories of how the year went.

From Childhood
Christmas was known for togetherness

and  lovely smiles
I’d secretly admire Mom’s beauty
When’er sings the carrols

Then we’d cook  almost all through the day:
Different delicacies for visitors and relatives
Not seen in a while
And there’s always the visitor who’d come when everyone is about to rest.

Dear Dad,
I’m in a distant land
And I’m loved
I’ve got Christmas cards, boxes and packages,
I’ve attended Christmas gatherings and parties
But when I hear the bangs
And see the fireworks
I can’t help but think of home.

© writingcarrel 2020



Whenever I passed by Berger, I will see him, sitting at  the corner of the street with his long stick and ragged bag; His hairs were strands of dreads locked for either centuries or  God knows how long; His clothes were pieces of ragged-white turned brown by the combined effect of dust blown at him from non-challant road users and the wind itself. His skin was  dark, not the  typical complexion of a  beautiful black skin king, but from the myriads of days without water and soap to lather on the body. He knew nothing about our world or so I thought. Whenever a passerby  walked towards him, he would pose like an angry lion, waving   his  rugged stick  in the air.

On his right,  he had a packet of cigarettes with which he snapped at road users, On his left he held one of the sticks which unlit he would bask in the guise of smoking something to calm the nerves. On a good day, a jolly-good fellow would throw  a lighter at him and he would gracefully enjoy his pipemeal. A day came, I decided to throw  a candy at him, he waved his rugged stick at me, picked the candy,  placed it in his ragged and dusty bag,  looked up from the bag and grinned.  Bewildered, I wondered if he understood the language of our world- the language of  love, resentment, painful-gains  and chaotic- harmony.

I thought I could show kindness to him but didn’t know how to about it. First, if he was  psychic as he seemed then I would have to devise ways of expressing care without his marking my face; second, what on Earth  would I offer him that will be tangible and helpful to him,  considering my status in life and his condition.

An idea popped into my head, I could throw some crispy mints at him, and he would pick them and placed it in his decayed bag as he did  with the candy but what if hoodlums attack and take the little coins from him? Not even his rugged stick will save him from them.  After about thirty (30) minutes of conversing within, I made my way to the GTbank at Omole Phase two (2) inserted my Naira MasterCard  into the Automated Teller Machine, (ATM) withdrew some cash from the little savings I made during my NYSC, entered a shopping mall and got some goodies.
By the time I  was done shopping, it was already late in the evening.  Knowing I could fall into the hands of one of the hoodlums, I took my goodie bag and made for  Annie’s  house which was like a stone throw from the mall.

The next day, I woke early,  without waiting to bid farewell to Annie, I  took the bag of goodies and  I went straight to his usual spot.

Carefully I  dropped the bag filled with clothes, candy, soaps, eateries, money and what have you; They weren’t perfect but I found satisfaction dropping that goodie bag some miles away from him.
As though he knew it was for him, He carelessly dropped the unlit cigarette and made for the bag.
I watched him with so much curiosity as he seemed to count every single item on the bag; suddenly, his eyes shifted from the bag to someone across the road- me.
My heart raced as he fixed his dark- grey, sun-burned pupils on me, slowly I moved from where I stood, He rose with the bag and made towards me,  I  slowly moved from where I stood,  towards the direction of the Agberos, at least they may be kind enough to save me from him.

Without removing his gaze from mine, he crossed the road coming  towards me,  I increased my pace, but he seemed to be faster than I was. I started running  as fast as I could turning around he was running after me. Just when I thought, I would be caught up by an act of kindness to a complete stranger, he Stoped, bowed and mutterred something that seemed like gratitude.

Relieved I went back home. At least I  neither fell into his hands nor that of the hoodlums not knowing which would have posed more danger.

The day after,  I made yet a visit to his usual spot; to my surprise, he had his hair trimmed, his red  shirt sparkled in the dazzling December Sun. My cheeks fluttered as he slowly walked  towards me, though I was afraid, I at least knew he wasn’t deranged . He stoped at  a reasonable distance from where I stood, forced a smile,  with clouded eyes, he   echoed:

“Ese, Eni to Olorun ran,Oluwa maa bukun fun yin” [Thank You God-sent, God bless you]

I went back to Anie’s house smiling, grateful to God that I saved a life out of my life savings.  At least I still had to appreciate her for letting me bash into her house unannounced and leaving before She woke.

At 12:00 pm, I found myself at my sister’s house, the whole family was already celebrating the arrival of the new baby.

Gone, Episode Five

At the close of lectures, people filed out of the lecture room gradually, till none but Susan was left. Mr. Mahrmed stood beside the white board humming his favourite song  while  arranging his property in no particular order. She stood before him as a bird with broken wings,
“Sit  Miss”

He searched inside the class  cupboard, brought out a booklet and placed it before her, she looked at the papers and saw not a word on it. Instead, a stare on the papers brought back memories of her early days. she remembered the first time she was asked to meet with her tutor at the end of the school day, she was in JSS 1 then,  She had scored hundred percent in an arithmetic  test where other students had struggled with forty or fifty percent. The teacher  had told her to rewrite the test in her presence in a bit to curb malpractice, That day, she had left the teacher with her head placed on the high heavens and that’s how she was given the name Copper Stone, a name she bore till she left her Junior Secondary.

This time around it was different,  her vision had been blurred with fear,  she could neither read a letter nor a word in the booklet. Mr  Mahrmed sat there watching her for some time, then he placed his hands  on the desk and leaned towards her. 

“These rules you see, are meant not  meaningless, If your continuous assessment record is not up to forty percent, you will not be allowed to write the examination”

“Do you  think I can cope here”

“You can if you’re determined”