“I am sick and tired of this house” Inem confessed. “I am going to move out.”
Nelly knocked hard on the study door of Mr. Smart. Without waiting for an answer, she barged in and Mr. Smart, swung around on his swivel chair.
“Have you heard your son?” Nelly barked.
“SShhhh!” Mr. Smart whispered. Can you give me an hour or two please. I am right in the middle of an important webinar”.
She stormed out. “That is always the case. Every time I want to speak to him, it’s always one thing or the other in the way and that’s how issues get unresolved. Before you know it, we are in the middle of a crisis.”
“Inem” Nelly called out.
“Inem” she called louder.
“Inem”, she shouted.
“Yes mum” Inem responded and strolled in lackadaisically into the kitchen.
“Why are you screaming my name” he questioned the mum.
“Right, so you are so big that, you cannot answer when you are being called anymore” Nelly barked.
Nelly was losing the plot. In southern Nigeria, there is a saying that goes- two legs cannot enter the same leg of a trouser.
“It’s either you realize that you are the child in this house or you go to where you can be the boss. I don’t feed men, I feed children,” Nelly stated. “You are only fourteen and I tell you what to do, period. Now wash your dishes”.
Sitting in the terrace and enjoying the fresh evening breeze while eating roasted corn and African pear, Nelly raised the issue again with Mr. Smart.
“Smarty, I have told you this before that Inem Is threatening to move out of the house. You better talk to him o.”
Mr. Smart didn’t pay any attention to what Nelly said. He rather paid more attention to the corn in the bowl and the African pear. He complimented his wife on her roasting skills.
Mr. Smart talked about the speculation for this year’s harvest. He was hoping for a good harvest this year. Last year did not work out too well for him. There was a glitch in the market. This year held better prospects. He was monitoring the situation. Nelly felt Smart wasn’t paying enough attention to this unfolding drama with Inem.
Inem felt he had come of age. He didn’t like the way his mother talked to him. He didn’t like the way he was being treated in front of the maids. He was the only son of his mother. His mother wanted him to grow up to be such a fine gentleman. His mother wanted him to be a responsible man. Inem felt overwhelmed. The pressure was too much on him. He wanted to get out of the house. He had ideas like most young folks did. He thought that going off to his mate’s place would be the panacea to taking daily reprimands from his mum and an occasional reprimand from his dad. He knew his dad was a busy man. He knew his dad was more concerned about recovering from last year’s glitch than being bothered with tiny details of threatening to leave home. As long as he did well at school, his dad was okay with that. As long as he did not get into trouble, his dad was okay with that. As long as he did not receive bad reports from neighbours and school, his dad was okay with that. As long as he was not doing drugs and alcohol, his dad was okay with that. As long as he did not get a girl pregnant. His dad was okay with that. As long as he stayed in the good books of all the people that mattered to his father, his dad was okay with that. More importantly, his dad wanted to keep him close by too, because he had caught his dad in the pub once or twice with Delilah.
Nelly was shocked to see the packed up suitcase in Inem’s room. This time she did not wait for Smart to get home from work. She dashed straight to the farm.
“You have been paying deaf ears to my alarms, now the worst has happened” Nelly cried. Her voice was drowned by the sound of the tractor.
Smart turned off the tractor’s engine and jumped down. He held her by the shoulders.
“What’s wrong my dear?” He queried wearing a puzzled look on his face.
Nelly hardly came to the farm alone. Whenever she came, it was always with Smart.
“You have been paying deaf ears to my alarm bells. I have been telling you about Inem and now we are about to lose him” Nelly sobbed.
“No, we are not losing him.” Smart reaffirmed.
“There you go again with your attitude. Do you know that he has packed his suitcase and about to leave home?” Nelly announced.
“Oh that. Nelly darling, you worry yourself too much. Inem has nowhere to go to. We feed him, we clothe him, we give him pocket money, we do everything for him. If he goes to his friend’s place with a suitcase, the father of his friend would get in touch with me. He just has nowhere to go to. Wherever he goes to, he will have to come back to the comfort of home, free food and free accommodation, so relax”.
“That’s why I love you. Life is so much easier with you darling” Nelly concluded.
The next day Inem had his rucksack stacked on his packed suitcase, ready to leave the house. The threat had been on going for a few weeks now and it was time he made it real.
“Poi poi poi!” the knock sounded on Inem’s door.
Silence filled the air.
“Poi poi poi” the knock was repeated.
Yawning and stretching Inem asked “who’s there?”
An outstretched arm awaited him as he opened his door.
“Can I have the keys please?”
‘What keys mum?”
“The keys to your room.”
“Well I have been waiting for you to pack out since you made the announcement. I have plans for this room, I need the key please and now.”
Shock was written all over Inem’s face and beads of perspiration began to form around his forehead as the outstretched arm moved to the door to remove the keys.