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Ijeoma: Safe Journey Part 1

Growing up, I had never heard anyone bearing such name but I had already hated the name ‘Ijeoma’ before meeting anyone with that name.

When I was five years old, we traveled to the village to see our grandparents. Two days after we arrived, my dad had an emergency meeting he needed to attend to back in Ilorin. I watched my mother prepare and arrange everything for his departure the next day. I suddenly fell ill the night before he traveled. My grandma had tried persuading him not to travel but instead he should cancel the appointment and relax. She had warned him that my sudden illness might be a sign for him not to travel. ‘When any of my three siblings and I got sick before a journey is about to be made, grandma said it was a sign from God not to embark on such journey’.

Dad had ignored her and sternly insisted that he was going to attend the meeting. “It was his only chance of becoming a partner with the dog-eat-dog firm he worked with at Ilorin” he told grandma.

The next day I watched my mum wave at my dad together with my siblings and my grandparents with some of our cousins who had also returned for the Christmas holiday. My mother and grandmother kept shouting “Ijeoma” and waving at my father until he was out of sight. Ijeoma in my tribe means ‘safe journey’ but nothing was safe about my dad’s journey. The morning he left the village was the last time he returned alive. Few hours after he left the village, a call came in and my mother fainted. It was said that “Dad was involved in a ghastly accident”.

Was there something safe about his journey? Of course No!

I didn’t know I had grown with the trauma until my final year in high school when a new exchange student was brought to our class and was introduced as ‘Miss Ijeoma’. Immediately I heard her name I became very restless and I developed a strong hatred for her, even without knowing her.

Ijeoma was a beautiful, tall girl with a nice shape that every guy in my class loved. Everyone was so interested in making her their friend except me. From the moment she came into the class, she’s been staring at me and when the teacher asked her to choose any seat to sit down on, she chose the desk next to mine.

My classmates were all disappointed. I wasn’t the most handsome guy in my class but I was the most popular and the loquacious guy in my class. I would use my talks and jokes to confuse my classmates and sweet talk any of them into doing things for me. In my mind, ‘I was the strongest’.

Ijeoma was trying her best to be my friend but each time I was talking and cracking jokes and I sight her, I would quickly stop. We attended the same church; I never noticed her until she changed to my school. In one of the Sunday services,  she brought her mother close to our car and introduced herself as my friend from school. My mother and her mother bonded from there and they quickly exchanged contacts and address.

They were the first to visit us the next Sunday and she tried her best to make me like her but I still hated her.

The hate was too much that my mother noticed it and asked me to be nice to her. That was when I started opening up and tried accepting her as a friend. Even though I opened my heart, I still tried not to get too close to her but to always keep my distance. But I was no longer bitter the way I used to, towards her.

The first time we went to their house, she told me lot of fun stories. I actually enjoyed all of them but didn’t really show her that I did.

Click Here Ijeoma: Safe Journey Part 2

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