“How I wish I can see other means to raise fund for him,” he said while he laid on a bed thinking about his son’s academic pursuit. James father Ibori was a man of integrity and hardworking. A man who was abandoned by his fellow brothers out of hatred. Ibori had three brothers who were very healthy but none of them had a male son. For this reason, his brothers developed a strong hatred towards him as if he was the giver of male children to humanity.
James was the only son of his parents together with his two younger sisters. They lived in the eastern part of Nigeria. His parents were involved in petty business in a small market located three kilometres away from their home. The market days were usually three times a week. From the little earning they used to make from the sale of their wares, they were able to cater for their feeding and other basic needs. It could be said that it was out of the luck that James was able to finish his Junior Secondary School. The struggle was not really an easy one for his parents. James’ uncles were wealthy enough to assist him financially for his academic pursuit but they were reluctant to do so.
In many occasions, he had asked his father the reason why his uncles were acting that way to him as their brother, but his father had always told him that when they were ready to help they would assist them. This reason was not convincing to him, he knew his father was hiding the truth from him until one day when one of his cousins openly told him the truth while they were playing. “You thought my dad was not willing to help your dad?” James’ cousin told him. “Well to me, it was a strange phenomenon. My dad kept on telling us that when your father will be ready, he will definitely do something,” he replied to her. She continued: “The hostility between the two families is the issue of a male child. You were the only male child we had in our immediate extended family. To that effect, my parents are not happy about it.” James gave a deep breath as she finished and left her sorrowfully.
The evening of that same day during supper, James took up the courage to ask his father what was actually the problem between him and his brothers. He only wanted to confirmed what he was told by his cousin. “Father please, did you have any unpleasant experience in the past with your brothers for them acting they have been acting towards you especially when it comes to financial issues?” He asked with a tremulous voice. “My son, how many times will I tell you that I have nothing against my brothers, your uncles? Can you force your fellow man to help you when he is not in willing to do so? You see sometimes in life as a man, you have to work for your salvation because depending on others, they will fail you at the moment you least expected,” he said. His wife looked at him through the corner of her eyes with a facial expression telling him that she was not happy with his response to their son. After the meal, the girls tidied the place and put everything in order.
James parents’ consolations were from their children. Their children were so blessed intellectually and character-wise by nature to the extent that some of their neighbours envied them a lot. However, their major challenge was the financial demand of their children’s education.
In the quest of getting a better job, James’s father later found one in a metal recycling company. The work was hectic and dangerous. Due to unavailability of safety devices, his father sometimes used to return home with injuries on his hands. After dinner, his mother used to massage his father’s hands with hot water and after that, she would apply some local balm to help relieve him from pain. This was what the young man was doing until he was able to raise a reasonable amount of money for James.
It has been the desire of his parents to see that all their children were educated no matter what it would cost them. His father was determined to go to any length to make it a reality. His mother continued with the petty business while his father continued to work hard and at the end of the day, all their earning would be put together and used for the good of the family.
After they had passed through the financial stress of James’ secondary school, it was now time for him to register for the national exams into university. There came another major challenge: how to get the fund for registration and enrolment for a preparatory class for the entrance exam. After all efforts made by his parents to raise the fund so as to meet up with the date for registration, nothing reasonable was realised or achieved. His parents had to make recourse to some neighbours who could lend them money. One morning, James’ father went to see one of his good friends who was living 15km kilometres away from them.
“My good friend welcome. I hope all is well,” he said to Ibori. “A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing, either something is chasing it or it is chasing something,” replied Ibori. They both sat in front of a bottle of dry gin and small glass cups. “Can we take some drink before we start our discussion? He asked Ibori. “ Oh! Why not? That will even open our mind and bring out good ideas and suggestions in view of proving a tangible solution to my problem,” Ibori said. The two small glass cups were half filled with the gin and they both sipped the entire content in a twinkle of an eye with frowning faces. “Okay! Why this sudden visit?” He asked Ibori. “Well as I earlier said, something important and pertinent has brought me to your house. I came to ask you for some money so that I can register my son James for the national exam into the university. I have to be sincere with you, I will be paying you in parts till I finish my debt,” said Ibori. “But your brothers are really heartless. So just because they are not having a male child, they cannot in any way assist you financially? Our world is filled with mysteries and strange people. There is no cause for alarm. What are we friends for? But how much can be enough for you?” He said. “My good friend what you said is true. I will not be tempted to take what I will not be able to pay at the end of the day. I will need at least fifteen thousand naira,” he replied to him. His friend immediately stood up, went inside and came out with a bundle of cash and handed it to him. “Please, can you count it to know if it is complete, sometimes one can make mistake and at the end of the day the lender will end up blaming the borrower,” he said to Ibori. Ibori counted it and it was sixteen thousand naira. “Are you sure? Please can you count it again?” he asked him. Ibori counted if for the second time. But this time, he counted sixteen thousand five hundred naira. “You see what I was telling you. You did well by counting it,” he said to Ibori. Ibori extending his hand to give him back the one thousand naira note that was extra, his friend said, “That can serve you to buy a bottle of gin to keep body and soul together. He thanked him very well and took his leave.