He came back from abroad to much jubilation and celebration, if the villagers noticed that he came back with only his briefcase they chose to ignore it. Maybe he told them that his things were yet to arrive, maybe he told them that they got lost on the high seas. He never told him the problems he had with the American government or that he never finished his doctorate degree due to the disruption. They still affectionately called him ‘Doc’.
They were happy to see him; he had been gone for fourteen years. They remembered the young man that had fought for the rights of the women and the underdogs of the village. They remembered the young man that had resisted colonial rule and the white man’s cultural dominance, who had joined the youth resistance and gone into the big forest for initiation into the cult of warriors. He had been a fearless and audacious young man.
He was no longer the boy that did the domestic work in his elder brother’s household in the city. He was no longer the motherless child that had to look on with envy and hunger as other children ate dinner in their mother’s hut each night while he made do with the leftovers they tossed at him. He was no longer the deprived youth that didn’t get his first brand new school uniform till the age of 15.
He had persisted in school when most of his older brothers and sisters had dropped out; he was smart and quickly learnt the letters of the white man and how to read their books. He wasn’t a conscientious student, he would frequently disagree and fight with his teachers and the headmaster and disappear from school for weeks but he managed to complete his qualifying exams and get a university scholarship abroad.
He came back determined to change the village where he had grown up and he refused to live in the city where he quickly got a job with the civil service, preferring to commute every day. He styled himself as a socialist revolutionary, wore safari suits and drove a Volkswagen Beetle. He remained with the civil service the rest of his working life. He boasted that he never took a kobo from the people’s patrimony managed by the government he worked for.
That did not endear him to his work colleagues or even to the village people he claimed to live his life for. At work he was regularly side lined when juicy appointments and opportunities for graft were available because everyone knew that he would not make ‘returns’ and he would be scornful of those that did. At home his kinsmen felt cheated that he did not bring back the national cake to share with them and spurned him at village meetings to which he reacted with rage.
He was always quarrelling with his kinsmen, they didn’t like him very much because he looked down on them as illiterates and was always trying to tell them what to do and how. He didn’t like them because they wouldn’t listen to him even though he was a very well read, well-travelled man that could confidently debate politics, economics and philosophy with just about anyone even though his doctorate had been interrupted.
He was a man with a lot of rage in him. It was a mystery where all the rage came from. Some said he inherited it from his grandfather who had been famous for his rages and could make lighting and thunder strike any person he was angry with. His grandfather had been a great wizard and magician and very rich and important in their little village in the jungles of west Africa. Doc didn’t need thunder and lightning, he used his fists and his words instead and he never forgot a slight, he could nurse a grudge for years.
After work he would have a late lunch prepared for him by one of his sister in laws (he lived in his late father’s old compound) and then ride off on his white horse bicycle to visit one of his girlfriend’s where he would stay late into the night. He didn’t marry for a long time and he preferred older women, divorcees and widows that doted on him and were grateful for his attention, demanding little from him in return.
When eventually he did get married he terrorized his wife and children. He expected them to agree with everything he said just like he expected it of the villagers and when they didn’t he was cruel and remorseless in his retribution. He died sick sad and alone in a fetid stinking hole, a bitter old man surrounded by shattered dreams but even in death he stubbornly refused to admit any remorse or gratitude.