Hi Honey, I’m Home – And the Natives Are Disturbing Me Already

They’ve started rolling in. The demands from my village people.

‘Its time for you to get an appointment’

‘Appointment?’

‘Yes now. They’re looking for people like you.’

‘People like me?’

‘Yes now. They want people like you. You read book. You’re yellow. You speak well. You be woman. You can represent us there.’

‘I’m not interested’

‘What do you mean you’re not interested?’

‘I’m not interested in their appointment. I won’t be able to achieve anything. And they will kill me. You know I cannot smell shit and keep a straight face. I will blow alarm.’

‘What’s that? What do you think you’re talking about?’

‘I can’t follow them and do what they’re doing?’

‘What are they doing?’

‘They are chopping money, Nigeria money’

‘Ehen! Are you not a Nigerian?’

‘I don’t know how to chop government money. I’m not that sophisticated.’

‘Ah. You will learn now. They will teach you’

‘I don’t want to learn.’

‘You be better person. Oya. Go and change the system now’

‘You can’t change the system. The system changes you.’

‘Ehn? So you will change and chop?’

‘If I don’t they will ban me from the village. But I will have an open day every Wednesday and Friday. Any body that comes to see me will get a cash gift.’ ‘

‘Ehn? So you won’t chop but you will give everybody to chop?’

‘Yes. No one will believe that I’m not chopping anyway so I will let the people chop my share. At least dey no fit talk say I dey chop alone.’

‘You’re very funny.’

‘I’m not being funny. Anyway it doesn’t matter. I’m not interested in an appointment.’

‘So? Is that what your going to tell them in the village?  But you went to school now, we need people like you. Okay. So why did you go to school now?’

‘I went to school to get an education?’

‘Ehn? Is that what you think? Siddon dey do mumu. If I had a head for school I would have been there chopping o! And they want to put more Igbo people there.’

I wonder if I should bother arguing with her. A decade or two ago I would have. But I know she won’t budge in her opinion. In the village you are communal property. Period. They don’t understand individualism. They don’t understand you have your own life to live. Your life belongs to them. You are part of the collective. That’s how you survive. Why banishment was such a terrible punishment.

I feel a twinge of guilt. There has to be another way to do something for the people I left behind in the village. The rules changed before they could get to the finishing line. They had depended on the privileged ones (like me) who got a higher education and good work opportunities to come back for them and lead them to a better life. That’s what my father expected of me too. Perhaps that’s what the ancestors expect.

Nwa Agwubuo Duruabali

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