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Patto

Sitting in the derelict building with the bunch of hood boys, he drew a whiff of smoke from the rolled substance and choked and coughed. No one seemed to mind him. Everybody was in their own world. Their life depended on the rolled substance. They started their day with the rolled substance, took the substance during their break time and finished their day with the rolled substance. There was something that the rolled substance gave to them, it was companionship. The rolled substance put them in a world where they belonged. They had no family nor friends who cared for them. But in this little community of sharing the rolled substance, they found family, they found companionship, they found comradeship, they found succour.

Patto had just come back from the big city. He had gone to visit his paternal uncle. The encounter was not pleasant.

“Chief, we cannot have your nephew with us. We barely know him.”

“I understand, but he will be staying in the boy’s quarters.”

“Chief he will be a bad influence on our kids.”

“What influence are you talking about – Ronnie is already lost, Edna is not doing so well…”

“So must we bring in somebody that will make them even worse?”

“You do not know Augusta, it might be that, this young boy, is the spark they will need to sit up in life.”

“Mba*, chief, I disagree. I do not want this boy in our house. Period!”

“Well, in that case I will have no option than to…”

Patto barged into the dining room, where his uncle, Chief and his wife were having a conversation during morning breakfast.

“Good morning uncle, good morning aunty.”

“Good morning Patto” chief responded. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good morning Patto” Augusta answered.

“Augusta, we shall conclude the conversation when I come back from work.”

“Ok Chief.”

As Chief was making his way to the car, Patto joined chief.

“Uncle, I would like to go back to the village tomorrow.”

“Why the rush Patto? I have been thinking of how to support you?”

“Uncle I need to go back to help grandma in the village.”

“Well if you insist.”

As Patto took a long drawn inhalation from the rolled substance, the hairs on his head stood and his head spun. That scene kept replaying in his mind. It was clear that he was not wanted in his uncle’s house. This uncle was a near relative. Since the demise of his parents, he had been to about six relatives’ houses and he had been rejected by all of them. He was yet to understand what crime he had committed that made everybody reject him. He still remembered the numerous relatives that used to come and visit  their home, when his daddy was alive. Their house was a beehive of activities. Sometimes as one relative was leaving, another was just checking in. It was so draining. He had to constantly share his room and toys with cousins and distant relatives. He didn’t have his father to himself. He was always trying to catch his father’s attention. As soon as his dad returned from work, there was this stream of people waiting to see him. His dad had one weakness. He didn’t know how to turn people away or ask them to come back another day. His mother would have done the job for him, but his dad would always insist that the people be allowed to have access to him, even at the expense of his life and family. He would usually be through with the last guest about 11pm and straight to bed he would go because he has to wake up for work early the next morning.

Afua, Patto’s dad was a chartered auditor with Royal Accounting Corporation (RAC), based in Lagos. He had travelled to Lomé, Togo to audit a company that had retainership with his company. A massive fraud in the company was about to be uncovered. Afua went to sleep at his hotel room in Lomé and never woke up. Post mortem examination revealed that he died of poisoning. His body was released to the family for funeral. After the funeral, his entitlements were paid to the family. Afua’s brothers conspired with the company and took the money – 23 million naira. They did not give Augusta, Afua’s wife a dime. Augusta went into shock after the husband’s death. One event led to the other that culminated in her demise. She left behind three children, Patto being the eldest. The children moved from one relative house to another as a flock without shepherd. Nobody wanted to take them in. Excuse upon excuse. The head of the family, Odiase who collected the money from RAC would not take in Patto’s children nor offer any kind of support for them. Patto was too young to engage the man in a fight even though he knew that money was given to uncle Odiase. The key word for them was survival.

Patto packed all his siblings, Odion and Iyase and they went back to the village to stay with their grandmother who was stricken in age, though strong and agile. She had a medium sized cash crop farm. This she used to support her grandchildren. Patto and his siblings all worked in the farm. They attended the village primary and secondary school. They helped their grandmother in the farm after school and Patto did extra work on weekends to support the family. He would often go to the big market and cart goods for traders and shoppers on a rented wheelbarrow all day for a fee. He would be exhausted at the end of the day.

“Akeem, how do you guys do this job all day and not get tired?”

“We take soja. Soja keeps us going.”

“What’s soja?”

“Ikpo*. Weed. This keeps us going.”

“Aren’t you too young to smoke weed? That’s dangerous to your health.”

“Hey listen, I am here minding my business and you come to ask me how we get the energy to work all day and I told you and now you want to preach me a sermon on what’s good for me, eh?”

“Sorry.”

“You better be sorry for yourself.”

Patto remembered his first drag of weed and how after that day he got hooked. He had found a new set of friends who had accepted him for who he was, a wheelbarrow pusher. They did not discriminate against him. He felt loved. He felt loved for once in his life, he felt wanted and grew up with these co-smokers as his allies.

After passing his GCE and University Matriculation Exams, he decided to try his distant wealthy uncle, whom his dad had helped at some stage in life. He was scared of being rejected again, however his dream of attending university pushed him to see this distant well off uncle.

He had overheard the conversation between his uncle and wife. He knew that the problem would be with aunty Augusta. He had offered himself that dignity to leave chief’s house before he would be ejected. He felt good about this decision. Before he left, chief had promised him that he will support him through university financially.

As he sat with his barrow friends and smoked, he announced to them that he would be leaving for the big city to attend university in the next one week.

“We know say you sabi book” Kenoski announced. “We happy well well for you, But this book thing no be for us.”

“yeah my guy, we wish you well. Me I know say you go make am. But make you no forget us o. You know say we still dey here dey push barrow. We go dey wait you bros Patto”  Ipi said.

Kenoski handed patto, five thousand naira. “Take, this na from us to support you. We no say, no be big money but at least e fit help buy you smoke when you dey study.”

They all cracked up. “Patto no go need joint when him dey read those big books. Na after him don read the big books, him go need the joint to relax him mind. I don tell you say, your head na empty head, nothing dey inside this your empty head.”

Patto was moved to tears. He accepted the money. It wasn’t the money that moved him to tears. It was the fact that this was the only people he had in his life. They had accepted him and given him a sense of belonging in life. When all his family turned him away, these guys let him into their lives. For this he was so grateful.

The night before his departure, his seventy five years old grandma sat the three of them down for a meeting.

“Odion, Iyase, you know that Patto is leaving us tomorrow to the city to start the big school. I pray that our gods will go with him and guide him through his stay at the big school.”

“Isee” they all chorused.

“May you walk only in the light.”

“Isee” they chanted.

“May the evil eyes never see you.”

“Isee” the chorus continued.

“Any may you come out successful in your endeavours and bring back the golden fleece.”

“Isee o!”

“Since Aluede has made this dream come true, may his path never dim.”

“Isee o.”

“May his wife Augusta and children prosper.”

There was a pause here in the chorus.

“Augusta who did not want Patto in her house” Odion and Iyase chimed.

“Children we never pay back evil with evil”

“Isee o.”

Odion and Iyase were sobbing. Patto has been like a father to them. They all understood that he was going to be gone for good.

“Odion, Iyase, you know since we lost papa and mama, grandma is all what we have. Please continue to help grandma in the farm and don’t leave her to do the work all alone. We pray that our gods will keep her strong and healthy so that we too, will be able to give her some support at old age.”

“I am old jare*. I just want to see you my children doing okay in life then I can depart in peace.”

Four years seemed to fly by. During holidays, Patto spent it with Chief. It was his way of saying thank you to Chief. Chief would usually use him as his personal assistant, to run errands here and there. Even though, Augusta did not like the idea, she liked how serviceable Patto was. She knew that her own children could not be trusted like Patto. Patto soon became the trusted ally of Chief. He handled chief’s personal transactions. Chief sent him to the bank to withdraw huge sums of money for him. Chief loved Patto and wished that his own children would turn out like Patto.

The children of Chief lived a wasteful life. They partied and spent money recklessly. They were irresponsible. They were not doing so well at school. Patto was producing excellent results and graduated in a record time. Chief’s children had extra courses to complete at their various universities. There was an unspoken hatred and jealously between Patto and Chief’s children – Ronnie and Edna. They were civil to Patto but deep down, they knew that they didn’t like Patto and they knew that their father preferred Patto.

Patto was happy to have a place to lay his head. After his graduation from the university he looked for a job. His vision was to work in an oil company or top conglomerate where he could build a career and advance in his studies. He had his younger siblings to look after. They also deserved a chance to go to uni. Any little money that Patto made was sent for the upkeep of his younger siblings and maintenance of their grandma who was ‘frailing’ now. Age was catching up with her and age related ailments like arthritis were on standby.

It is commonly believed that Lagos is the land of opportunities. It is the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. Patto put in applications everywhere he knew  for a job and nothing worked. Nigeria has a teeming population of about 170 million people. About 20 million youth are looking for job opportunities. Jobs come mainly through whom you know.

Patto had made up his mind that if he couldn’t secure a job he would travel to America to attempt the American dream. He shared his dream with Chief who concurred that it would be a brilliant idea.

Chief knew that if Patto travelled he would make a success but he didn’t want to feel like he has failed in the upbringing of his kids. When he mentioned the idea to Augusta, without hesitation, Augusta suggested that chief should send Ronnie to the US as well.

“That’s not a good idea” Chief murmured.

“What’s not good about the idea? You sending your nephew to America and your own son is right here, is the good idea, eh?”

“We both know that Ronnie is very irresponsible. Here he is, under our own nose, he cannot manage himself. What will happen to him when he gets to a place where there is no support or guidance for him?”

“He will survive. Maybe that will make him sit up?” Augusta declared.

Chief knew too well that he will not win this war, so he gave up and agreed to send Ronnie to the states. Ronnie did not have any game plan. He didn’t have a clue what he would do when he got into States. He was sent off nonetheless, with 20,000USD as a start off money to enable him settle down.

Six months later Patto left for the US with only 500USD. Despite all the assistance Patto rendered to Chief, he was rewarded with a ticket to the States and BTA of 500USD. The cruel realities of life. This was carefully orchestrated by Augusta. Patto, on the other hand was grateful that he had been offered a ticket and helped with his visa procedures. He knew he had that dogged determination and knew that he would make it. It was just a matter of time. As far as Augusta was concerned it was a matter of ‘my son must succeed’ by crook or foul means. She couldn’t stand seeing Chief bestow all his confidence in Patto. She knew too well that Patto was of immense service to the household whereas their own children could not be trusted as they lived irresponsible lives and squandered the wealth of their parents. Their children’s education adventure was a mishap. They all graduated with third class degrees after spending extra time in the uni. If not because of their father’s wealth, there would have been no hope for them in life.

Ronnie got into the US and continued with that life of delusion. He got entangled with the wrong crowd and before long his life was in a mess. He was always ringing home and asking for money. His life in America was like another conduit for draining funds. Chief could barely cope with his incessant demands for funds with the promise to sort it out once he got settled.

Patto did not have a soft landing like Ronnie. In fact he had a very tough time when he first arrived the States. He worked as a security guard during the night and in the tills during the day. During weekends, he attended a local community college to improve himself. After spending three years in the US, Patto earned his first master’s degree. After seven years, in the US, Patto naturalized as an American citizen. He had secured a good job in Texas and was working through his career and studying for his second masters’.  Ronnie, meanwhile was running from pillar to post, being embattled with child support for his baby mamas. Chief was really getting fed up with him.

Patto invited Chief to come and visit him in Texas. Chief was heart broken that a child who was not his, whom he sent off to the States with only 500USD could within a space of eight years send him a ticket to come and visit him while his own blood was still requesting for assistance from him. It was always a case of ‘this last chance dad, everything is going to be ok.” When will things exactly be okay with him. Chief had been hearing this song for about 8 years.

While studying at the university, Patto had formed a strong friendship with a contemporary of his – Dennis. It was a union that stood the test of time. Dennis was coming to the US to visit Patto. While at uni, Patto had a habit of smoking weed. He smoked weed all through his stay in the university. Dennis always admonished Patto to quit the habit and Patto would only remark with a smile and the phrase “Dennis you would not understand why I smoke this weed. Someday I will tell you my story.”

It was at the balcony of Patto’s home in Houston, Texas. They had savoured a favourite meal of grilled salmon, steamed vegetables and grilled plantain. They were now washing it down with a glass of Spanish wine and having the evening air soak them.

“Dennis, you remember I had promised you that one day I will tell you my story?”

“Yes you did.”

“Well after my mother and father passed away, I was shoved from one relative to another relative. All of them avoided me as a plague. They did not want to have anything to do with me. I ended up in the village with my grandmother. I started smoking weed. The people I used to smoke weed with accepted me. That became my new family. I smoked weed all through my life in secondary school up to university when I met you and you influenced me to stop smoking weed. I never told you. But I admired how you walked alone back in the uni days. How you were so focused. I told myself ‘here’s Dennis. He doesn’t really have friends and he’s not smoking, so I have no excuse for smoking weed. But I am aware that, it was that association with the smokers, that gave me some social life and made me pull through life.” So to cut the long story short, it was this ikpo that saved me throughout my days as a youngster till I met with you and you introduced me to the higher power.

 

Ikpo* – marijuana

Mba* – Igbo word for no

Isee* – so be it

 

Uwem Mbot Umana©2019

3 Comments

  1. ” Patto ” by Uwem Mbot Umana is a powerful and educative young adult literary fiction set mainly in Lagos, Nigeria and in the United States of America and detailing the captivating life story of a young man named Patto who is the protagonist in the story.
    Patto” is yet another amazing and lesson filled short story birthed from the ever active cerebrum of Uwem Mbot Umana. Patto isn’t just a short story but is a long life-shaping message to the world. It entertains and also develops the mind of readers.
    I really love and appreciate this wonderful story. Patto speaks on the challenges we must all face in life, it speaks on the great possibility of success in life, it speaks of doggedness and determination. It also speaks of tragedy, speaks of cruelty, irresponsibility, addiction and many other themes. I love this story for all it’s lessons, themes, societal realities and it’s fluid plot.
    Patto begins by bringing it’s readers into the life of a young man named Patto who is addicted to drugs. We meet Patto in the company of some “hood boys” in a dilapidated building smoking marijuana. The cannabis and the hood boys provide something that is missing in Patto’s life. Patto is somewhat alone in life, he has been rejected by almost everyone whose responsibility it is to take care of him. He is alone and without companions and the only thing that provides this much craved companionship and love is the marijuana and the hood boys. Their shared activity of smoking and wheelbarrow pushing gives Patto a feeling of companionship, comradeship and brotherhood. The boys are to Patto the family he he doesn’t have. They provide for him the sense of friendship and belonging he desperately needs. They were like him and they understood him and his needs.
    As Patto sits there smoking, he recalls his recent experience in the big city where he had gone to meet his paternal uncle. Patto had gone to his uncle’s house with the hope of finding help there. But things hadn’t gone well. His uncle’s wife, Augusta had kicked strongly against Patto’s presence in the house. She had felt that Patto was going to be a bad influence on her already “spoilt” children. Patto had left the house feeling sad and rejected, wondering what he had done wrong.
    Since the demise of Patto’s parents, Patto has been to six relatives’ houses and none of them had been willing to accept him and his siblings. They had all come up with flimsy excuses for rejecting him.
    Patto’s father, Afua had been a chartered editor with Royal Account Corporation ( RAC ) based in Lagos, Nigeria. He had been a sociable and wealthy man. Afua had been kind and very hospitable towards his relatives. His house had always been a beehive of activities. Relatives trouped in and out up to the point of discomfiture to his family. Patto recalls how he had constantly shared his room and toys with visiting cousins and relatives. Afua had had a weakness: he wasn’t able to turn away visitors even when they were destabilizing his family life. He had always insisted on being accessible to the people at the expense of his life and family.
    Afua had kicked the bucket when he was poisoned in Lomé, Togo. He had travelled there to do some auditing. A huge company fraud was about to be exposed. Afua had been discovered dead in his hotel room, the post mortem revealed he had been poisoned.
    After the funeral rites, Afua’s brothers connived with RAC and took Afua’s family entitlement of 23 million naira leaving Afua’s wife penniless. Afua’s wife went into shock and later passed on leaving Patto and two younger children as orphans. None of the relatives including Odiase, the head of the family who had collected the money from RAC took the orphans in or supported them. Patto had packed his siblings, Odion and Iyase to their grandmother in the village where they stayed supporting their grandmother in the farm and attending the village school.
    Patto had gotten into smoking when one of his fellow wheelbarrow pushers had introduced him to it, offering it as the source of strength for their tough daily struggles.
    Patto soon passes his G.C.E and University Matriculation Examinations. He decides to solicit help from his uncle again. Although, He is afraid of another rejection, his strong desire to attend the university pushes him to try.
    Before Patto leaves for the city, he informs his fellow wheelbarrow pushers about his journey to the city. At this point, this ” family ” of Patto’s surprises readers as they clearly encourage Patto and even give him a sum of money. This is very touching and interesting. This ” family ” had accepted him when his biological family had rejected him. They had become his real family.
    Time flies by. Patto is in the university and is doing well, he spends the holidays with his uncle. Despite what was believed by some relatives, Patto does exceedingly well up to the point that his uncle wishes that Patto was his own child. Even the disagreeable Augusta acknowledges that Patto is very helpful and better than her untrustworthy children, Edna and Ronnie.
    Patto continues excelling in his academics on one hand, and on the other hand Augusta’s children are doing poorly in school. Edna and Ronnie are irresponsible. That’s just the word to describe them: irresponsible!
    Soon, Patto graduates from the university, he searches futilely for a job and then decides to travel to the United States of America where he believes there are more job opportunities. He shares his decision with Chief ( Patto’s uncle) who agrees with the decision.
    As expected, Chief and his wife, Augusta feel somehow at the way things are going. It is now clearly seen that Patto is destined to succeed and is already succeeding whereas Edna and Ronnie are beginning to seem like failures. Augusta urges chief to also send Ronnie abroad, she cannot stand the idea of seeing only Patto going abroad. Chief succumbs to her request and sends both Ronnie and Patto to the United States.
    Over there in the U.S., Ronnie and Patto do not walk the same path and surely, their lives do not go in the same direction. I leave you to imagine in what direction the life of dogged, determined, and hard-working Patto goes.
    In “Patto”, we meet diverse personalities with diverse qualities facing diverse problems. We meet Patto, the protagonist of this story. A young orphan rejected by almost all relatives and in need of companionship, friendship and love which he finds among his fellow wheelbarrow pushers and smokers. I’m sure that when you read the word “smokers”, the first thought that crossed your mind was a negative one. Well, Patto isn’t hanging around and smoking with these boys due to any reason other than the fact that these boys provide something that is missing in his life: friendship and family. I do not mean to imply that I support the smoking of or addiction to marijuana. This story clearly tells us that the “hood boys” are not some bunch of hooligans but rather are young boys who bond together due to their similar needs and predicaments.
    Patto is strong and resilient. He doesn’t allow himself to be utterly broken by his parents’ demise. He realizes the need to be strong for himself and his younger siblings. He is strong enough to face life despite the rejections and hardships he had experienced. Many a persons in Patto’s shoes would have given up on life and either fallen prey to frustration, depression and suicide or gone over to ” the dark side “.
    Patto is also very dogged and determined. He refuses to be deterred by the rejections, trials and tragedies that have come his way. He is ready to do all that he can to make his dreams come true.
    Very importantly, Patto is hardworking.
    We also meet Afua, Patto’s father. Afua was a wealthy and kind man who was accessible to his relatives or should I say too accessible. Afua’s excessive desire to be always accessible to his relatives blinded him to his duty towards his family. Afua deprived his family of time with him. Most times, in our desire to help others, we overstep our boundaries and end up hurting ourselves or our dear ones.
    In “Patto”, we also meet the cruel and horrible relatives of Patto who, despite having been beneficiaries of Afua’s wealth, refuses to offer aid to his children. Patto’s relatives represent the wicked people which we may come across in life. They also represent the challenges we face in life.
    We also meet Augusta, Patto’s aunty and Chief, Patto’s uncle. Augusta was against helping Patto and also harbors jealous or envious sentiments towards Patto because of his success in comparison to that of her children. Chief is a man who offers help to Patto, and aids him in achieving his dreams.
    We meet Edna and Ronnie, Patto’s cousins who are very irresponsible. Deep down in their hearts, they detest Patto’s success. Edna and Ronnie waste the precious privilege of having well-to-do parents which Providence had given them.
    We also meet the “hood boys” who despite carrying out the frowned upon act of smoking play an important role in Patto’s life. These boys provided companionship for Patto. They served as a source of friendship and as a family to him. They gave him a sense of belonging and were there for him when no one else was.
    We also meet Dennis, an important friend of Patto who helps him break free from drug addiction and leads him to a better way of life.
    In Patto, we also meet Patto’s grandmother who served as a parent-figure in his life and was also a spiritual figure for him.
    It doesn’t take a genius to discover the lessons present in “Patto”. First, “Patto” teaches us that we will always meet challenges in life and we must try our best to be prepared for these challenges. Life is not a bed of roses. We cannot choose what happens to us in life, we can only prepare for these surprises of life and act rightly when we face them. We should plan towards these challenges. Despite the fact that most challenges or tragedies are unpredictable, some of them can be averted or prevented by proper preparation and planning.
    Patto also teaches us the value of family. We should try to spend as much time as possible with our family as they’re are important. The duty of the family is to provide support both emotional and otherwise to it’s members, the family is also meant to provide security, love, companionship and lots more for it’s members. In ” Patto”, Patto’s family doesn’t fulfill these duties, his relatives reject him hence Patto ends up getting all these needs from a group of co-smokers. Most adolescents go astray and become social miscreants because their family has not given them the needed support, encouragement and love. When you heal the family, you heal the society. The family is the basic unit of the society and when it is dysfunctional it affects the society as a whole. Most criminals in our society are products of dysfunctional families.
    Patto also teaches us to be determined, hardworking and dogged. It teaches us never to give up. No matter how hard the trials we face in life seem, we must be determined and persistent. Also, we must be hardworking. A person who is lazy cannot succeed. Even if a person is born with a golden spoon in the mouth, if he or she doesn’t work hard ,he or she would lose his fortunes. We must work hard not only to climb the ladder of success but also to maintain our position on the ladder.
    Patto also brings to light the importance of good friends. Dennis is a good friend who helps Patto become a better person. There is a saying that goes ” show me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are”. Our friends can make or marr us. Have good friends!
    “Patto” reminds me of another story by Uwem Mbot Umana titled ” For The Love Of A Mother” in which we meet a boy named Abdul who faces the challenges of being raised by a financially poor single-mother in the middle East but who doesn’t allow himself to be deterred. Abdul shows great determination, focus, doggedness and hardwork as he pursues his dream of becoming a successful aeronautical engineer.
    In both “Patto” and ” For The Love Of A Mother ” we are taught the importance of hardwork and determination on the journey to success. Other stories that Patto reminds me of include; Nature’s Fury and Nuremberg-ignited Hope all by Uwem Mbot Umana.
    I love ” Patto ” because it teaches us to be strong, dogged, hardworking and determined. I also love it because it brings to light the emotional needs of a young adult and the importance of family in a person’s life. I love “Patto” for how realistic it is.
    I believe that the author’s purpose for writing this story is to teach us the essence of hardwork, determination, tenacity, love, friendship, companionship and family. I believe that the author fully achieves this purpose.
    The settings of this story which includes Lagos, Nigeria, the United States of America, Lomé,Togo, etcetera are appropriate to the genre.
    The characters in “Patto” which include Patto, Afua ( Patto’s father), Augusta ( Patto’s mum), Augusta ( Patto’s aunty ), Chief ( Patto’s uncle ), Odion and Iyase ( Patto’s siblings ), Edna and Ronnie ( Patto’s cousins ), Odiase ( the head of the family ) and others are well developed. They act, speak, think and behave in believable ways. The readers are able to relate with the characters’ choices and actions.
    The plot of ” Patto ” is also well structured. ” Patto ” is somewhat devoid of suspense and at the same time slightly unpredictable.
    The themes of this story include the theme of hardwork, the theme of determination, the theme of family and the theme of companionship. The author makes use of literary devices in the story such as metaphor.
    Before, I conclude, I would like to leave these questions; can a former drug addict easily succeed in his academics? Is it possible to easily break free from addiction to smoking? Is it right to derive companionship and friendship from people like smokers?
    In conclusion, I love this story. It is indeed a good read and I recommend it to all and sundry.

  2. *Patto*

    Patto is a story of pain, fortitude, hardwork and inexplicable cruelty.

    Patto was the first child of Afua and Augusta, brought up in a well to do household. His father’s good-heartedness was exploited by his relatives over and over again to the point that Patto couldn’t even spend time with his father anymore. Unfortunately, Afua died and the relatives who sought his father, proceeded to turn their backs on himself and his siblings when he needed them the most, coming up with one flimsy, weak excuse after the other. It just goes to show that the people we surround ourselves with can ultimately turn out to be those who do not have our best interests or the best interests’ of our loved ones at heart.

    Patto, after being passed like a pinball from relative to relative alongside his younger ones, returned back to the village, and soon found himself a truck pusher. At this junction in his life, he had his first contact with “Ikpo” and was hooked afterwards. Only a strong will and using Dennis as a role model years after led him to quit smoking Ikpo and it turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made. Smoking is unhealthy and reduces the lifespan of man by weakening the lungs and is not an advisable lifestyle to live by.

    Patto, when about to leave for the US was gathered with his aged grandmother and his siblings, as they are praying for the continued success of Chief and his family, we witness the siblings grumble when they are praying for Chief’s wife to be blessed as well. Their grandmother admonishes them, saying that they should never pay back evil with evil. Such wisdom of an aged mother is absolutely vital to the young ones and must be heeded accordingly.

    Patto finally, after years of suffering, secured a financial benefactor in Chief. Now Chief’s children were bad eggs ; irresponsible, wasteful and only interested in living the fast life and wasting their father’s money. Their mother, Augusta (not at all related to Patto’s mother) always covered them, over pampered them and found ways to shield them from the harsh realities of life. Patto, the hardworking nephew of Chief, after finishing his education in the university requested to be sent to the US and was giving 500USD when leaving for the States. Ronnie, Chief’s son on the otherhand who was frivolous, was giving 20,000USD as startup money. Ultimately as we all saw, Patto used his time in the US wisely and judiciously, even to the point of being able to invite Chief over to the States, just so Chief could see how his investment turned out. Ronnie, ended up dependent on his father years after he left for the US, engaging in non-beneficial things and ultimately became a source of disgrace and shame to his father.

    Ultimately, Patto was a success despite all the trial and tribulations he faced. God is indeed great!!

  3. This is a story about the irony and contradictions of life that emphasises clearly why indeed it is not always good to judge the situation of your fellow human beings if you don’t know the full story.If you know the full story you might perhaps come to appreciate that injunction in the Bible which says – Do not judge others so that we don’t judge you with the same judgement by which you have judged others.Patto in this story is like a dramatis persona that the mystery of life has used to prove that point again in the Bible that – All things work together for good for those who believe in God.A young man who came from an affluent background where love genuinely functioned but in a dramatic twist of life found himself in a dark night of the soul and it’s attendant dangers and frustration.The real danger came with his association with weedsmokers.But then this is where the truth becomes pertinent that you don’t judge people by their appearance as per the adage- The hood does not not make the monk.This set of people not only gave empathic support that kept Patto going the beauty of their souls was revealed when they rallied round and contributed 5000naira to support his education.God moves in mysterious waysWhen the time came for Patto to quit the habit of hemp smoking he met another friend that talked him out of it.And as if Patto was an instrument in the hand of God to experience all the facets of human life in order to be an effective leader in the affairs of men he not only quit weed smoking but there was somethingleaning towards the end of the story suggesting that he had developed that kind of sense of responsibility urging him to go back to lift up all those who in their own ways regardless of what you could call their weaknesses had assisted him to negotiate his way to a position of privilege which he must now equally use to their advantage.The message in this story for me and which is very important is that we must always try to understand the apparent shortcomings of others.Those shortcomings may not be intended.Theymay look like shortcomings because the people concernedare passing through the crisesthatare not permitting them theproper use of their minds which they may need our empathic understanding to see them through

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