AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL POOR CHILD (And Her Journey to Destiny-Discovery) By Erasmus Ugochukwu Okafor
Waking up to the reality, Amarachi, popularly known as Amy, couldn’t believe that she just dropped out of school. As she parked her loads into that old Datsun truck that her dad left as a legacy, tears gained possession of her eyes.
Standing by the gate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Amarachi shook her head in dismay but in total surrender to fate, smiled sheepishly to what poverty had caused, and entered the truck to find her way to Onitsha.
Hunched over the tattered steering wheel of the old truck, she muttered: “Now, I must have to start using this truck for commercial purposes; for carrying loads for people, so that I could save some money and come back to school,” She absently nudged herself to the reality of her fate and smiled tearfully, “finally, I have dropped out,”
As Amy was about to leave, Osisioma, her closest friend and the daughter of Ichie Agujiegbe (the lion with a gun) the well- known industrialist at Main market Onitsha, waved at her to wait but the engine of the truck was already steaming. The pretty damsel quickly pulled over and stepped out of her 4Matic Benz SUV; looking cool in that bodycon mini gown adorned with her six-inch high-heeled shoes. Her golden human hair embellished her beauty.
Osisioma’s lips that were full of smiles at first, curved into a deep frown when she realised that her good friend was finally leaving the school as she told her earlier in confident.
“Please, you can’t do this,” Osisioma shouted as she fought hard on her high-heeled shoes; rushing to the truck and at the same time trying to gain a balance in the shoes, “I’ve told you that I have to talk to daddy so that he can take care of your schooling,”
Tears couldn’t stop raining down Amarachi’s cheek as her eyes remained blurred and saggy. She fought hard to move her lips to a befitting reply but numbness and sorrows overtook her emotions. She simply drove off even before Osisioma could come close to her. She knew that no one could help her because she’d always lived a life of being no dependant to anyone except to herself.
Even though Amarachi managed to drive as fast as she could away from Osisioma, the old truck’s noise and unsteady movement made her be more cautious on the road as she drove off and navigated along the expressway leading to Onitsha where she believed she belonged to.
Osisioma already knew how steadfast and determined Amara could be whenever she makes up her mind about something, so she couldn’t just rush into her car to follow her or stop her. She simply stood there with tears in her eyes watching her friend drive away in such an old vehicle that wasn’t even road-worthy anymore.
As Osisoma was lost in thoughts and sorrows, the incessant horns from the long queue of vehicles behind her honked and forced her back from that world of absence.
“Sorry for the obstruction,” she mumbled tearfully and went into her car. Sorrowfully, she drove away to her department-Economics.
Many calls that Osisioma made to Amarachi’s phone were left unanswered. It dawned on the entire students in economics department that they just lost their first-class material and there was nothing they could do to bring back their ‘student-lecturer’ as she was known as.
It was an early morning that fateful day. The birds of the air chirping and whistling, the crows cawing, and the voices of the street vendors being heard from far and near but Amarachi was still sleeping since she didn’t sleep on time. The light of the early morning sun flooded the cabin through the slit of the shattered roof. Had it been it was raining, she would have been busy fixing buckets at different locations to stop the rain from gaining possession of the entire floor.
“Amarachi!” The deafening voice of Ego Oyibo forced Amara out of the dreamless slumber, “What are you still doing on the bed by this time while your customers kept knocking on the door for Akara di ka Akwa! (bean cake that is compared to an egg in taste)” Her mom howled.
As Amarachi tried to balance herself on that old mattress she fell off the bed, but her hands were great support that made her not hit hard on the floor. She then realised that she wasn’t on her school mattress anymore but an elevated bed.
“Mom, I have told you to control the way you shout at me,” she said with a hiss as she yawned away the sleepiness of her eyes, “must I sell Akara today?” she grumbled and started removing the dry rheum in her eyes, “sometimes try to understand that this body needs rest,” she added.
“Shhhhhh!” her strict mom shushed her but still came closer to her at the bed and sat beside her, “this life isn’t always as easy as we want it to be,” she continued as she pulled Amara to her side, “if I didn’t groom you this way, you wouldn’t have been a better child by now,” she courteously said,
“sometimes, try to understand that these shouts and noise would always be resounding in your head even when I’m not there to guide you,”
With a tear about to announce its presence in her eyes, Amara smiled and snuggled into her mom’s bosom. “Ego oyibo, Nnem,” she called her in a petting way, “you’re a wonderful mom.
The only sin you ever committed that I inherited is poverty. But believe this; God must surely forgive those sins and make us rich someday,” she patted her mom gently on her back, used her clean napkin and cleaned the tears on her mother’s eyes, “weep no more, Nne (mom). The last thing you can deny a poor man is hope. I have hope, and I hope you do too,”
Serenity took over the entire room at the end of her exhortative statement, the sounds of silence flared between them, even though the usual shattering footsteps in the ceiling as a result of the hungry rats continued to disperse the silence with domestic noise.
“How can I stop weeping while my daughter remains a dropout from school?” Ego Oyibo asked with tears as her sobs welcomed a loud weeping, “if I could take care of you, why are you here sitting beside me, doing odd jobs that only men do, as well as frying Akara on the streets just for you and me to survive. Why aren’t you in school like your mates?” she explanatorily said to Amarachi who wept with her mom. “If we could afford a house rent, why are we always occupying empty lands until the owner comes to build, and we are forced to find another empty land to either raise a new cabin, thatched house or a clay-house?”
At a point, Amarachi held back her tears, went into the shoes of her unknown dad, to become a husband to her mom for the moment. She knew that her mom would soon start recounting her ordeals and sordid past as she fought to raise her as a kid and that would mean not going out for the Akara business that morning. So she pulled herself up, looking smilingly on her mom and said: “Ego oyibo, if you enjoy being poor, stay there while your mates overtake you in this life’s race. As for me, I am off for my sweet Akara ooo,” with that loud laugh, she said:
“Let me join the rich people like me and leave you poor widow here. Continue crying, Nne, and forget that your foodstuff business is of perishable items and would all be useless if you don’t go out on time”
Watching her pretty shapely tall daughter as she left the room, Ego Oyibo shook her head in admiration. Looking up to the dilapidated ceiling, she smiled and said: “God, I thank you for this wonderful grace you have given me in the form of a daughter. Your grace made her bear that name, Amara, and that grace will keep following me about in this life,”
She got up and started hitting at the ceiling to chase away the noisy rats.
** AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL
After selling her Akara for the day, Amarachi dressed up for work, checked on the time and realised it was almost her turn to load her truck at Otu-onitsha Motor Park. Hurriedly, she rushed into her legacy and drove off to Ose market, with the loud noise of the truck attracting public complaints.
Getting there, she realised that much loads were already waiting for her attention, so she had to be hasty about it. Her customers always look forward to when it’d be her turn because of how good she had been to them, most especially, because they couldn’t imagine such pretty young girl driving a truck and not prostituting.
Obinna and Oji-isi-ebu-mgbo (one who uses the head to defend bullets) were the porters that were Amy’s favourite. They always help her load her truck whenever it’s her turn.
As compensation in addition to their payments, Amy always brings hot Akara for them whenever she comes around.
“Oya, take your Akara,” she said and handed over two big balls of Akara to Obinna, “Ngwa, take yours,” she said and handed over just one ball of it to Oji isi ebu mgbo, “but Oji isi,” she added as she snorted, “you didn’t do well the last time, so yours would be just one Akara.”
The stubborn but respectful Oji isi, the orphan was busy eyeing Obinna as he kept munching the balls of Akara and digesting them with pure-water.
“Hey, Amara utu ocha chocolate,” Oji Isi called out with grin in a mocking way, “if you marginalise me, then I will do what I did the last time,” he ran a bit away from her to avoid being hit on his bald head as usual, “don’t worry, aunty. This time, I will give this Akwara of a man your…”
“Hey,” Amarachi shushed him with smiles on her face, “You gave out my number to Okoro the last time and I’m yet to recover from his daily disturbances. Now, you want to give to that Akwara that looks like a bouncer with this his macho. Abeg, my hand no dey (please, my hands are off it),”
“He was just joking,” Obinna said to Amarachi as he continued munching his Akara. Aunty, Amy. Oji Isi regretted it ooo. He even fought with Okoro because he asked him to give him back the number he gave him, no wonder he has bruises on his face for fighting an elderly person,”
“But I won the fight still,” Oji isi boasted, though he was bluffing.
“That serves you right for giving out my number,” Amarachi said with an impish grin, even though she felt pity by that, then pulled Oji Isi close and observed the bruises, “but I love this tattoo oo,” she added mockingly, making the man whose loads were to be loaded into the truck to laugh while watching the drama as he waited.
“This Akara is so sweet ooo,” Obinna said and divided the second Akara and wanted to hand over to Oji isi but Amarachi stopped him.
“Don’t worry about him,” Amara said and brought out Oji isi’s second Akara and gave him, “this is a note of warning to you,” she warned, “next time, you won’t even get any ball of Akara at all, in addition to what that bouncer would do to your komkom head,”
They all started laughing. Other people at the park got hit by the contagious laughter and they all continued chorusing the laughter at Oji isi.
“Utu ocha Chocolate(albinotic Chocolate),” Oji isi jeered at Amarachi as he avoided her knock on his head, “now you acted like aunty Amara that I used to know by completing my Akara,” He collected the Akara forcefully from her and shifted away further.
Being that Oji isi was well known for carrying any size of a heavy load, he got busy immediately and started loading the trucks while Obinna helped out.
The owner of the loads that was meant to be angry about his time being wasted was busy enjoying the jokes from Amarachi and her friends.
After loading the trucks, Amarachi entered the vehicle and drove off to GRA Onitsha where the owner of the loads resides. The Oga happens to be the chief driver to his boss but due to his trustworthiness, he was always the one sent to buy stuff from the market.
Getting to the gate, Amarachi saw a group of classy girls driving out of the compound. She quickly reversed to allow them to pass but instead of the girls to go about their daily business, they all started laughing at her for driving an old truck and doing men’s kind of work.
Amarachi simply remained calm and unperturbed. She was busy calculating the money for her services and had no time to think about the jeers from the girls from a rich home.
Osisioma, though very beautiful and well-to-do, had issues with intelligence. She always depended on Amara for her successes in school. Being that Amarachi was no more in school to help and guide her academically, life became hell for Osisioma. To add to her mental and academic stress, it was already an exam period and she wasn’t even ready yet. Even though she’d made efforts to read without Amarachi’s help, it hardly made sense to her. The only voice that makes her understand what’s being taught in the classroom was that of Amarachi whenever she teaches her with her lecturing prowess.
It wasn’t easy for Osisioma to drive down to Onitsha for a preparatory lesson from Amara for her exams, especially the fact that the new lessons and topics taught in the class at Amarachi’s absence would be alien to the poor girl fighting to keep the body and soul together at Onitsha.
On that clement morning when Amarachi was at the park as her friends were loading her truck, a call came across. It was one of Osisioma’s numerous calls that she ignores as usual since she wanted to have nothing to do with school’s disturbance until she’s ready to go back to school.
Notwithstanding that pigheadedness, thinking of how fairly good her life had been around Osisioma whose benevolence kept her alive until she left the university, nostalgia overtook her. People at the motor park were surprised that Amarachi remained glued to the seat of her truck and didn’t even heed to the voice of some jokes coming from Oji Isi ebu mgbo and Obinna, his counterpart.
Amara kept looking absently as her eyes became vague with sorrowful tears. The phone kept beeping and the vibration kept prodding the disturbed girl to consciousness but the poor girl’s attention was cocooned in mixed feelings of nostalgia and willingness to let go of the past.
“Aunty Amara, what’s happening, please?” Obinna queried and arched, resting his weight on the truck to check who was calling her on the phone and the reason she was agitated and didn’t want to take the call. “Is that Okoro again?” he asked concernedly.
Amarachi was jittery by that interruption to her thoughtful state, so she took a deep sigh and said, amid the towering noise in the market, “Do you know the saddest moment someone has in life?” Her eyes abstractedly fixed at two men fighting in a distance but not concentrating on them.
Obinna saw how reflective she was and became more disturbed and sober. “I don’t know the answer, aunty Amara,” he said admittedly, feeling disquieted.
“The saddest moment in life is when you remember when you were once happy,” Amarachi maundered and hunched over the steering wheel meditatively while the buzz from Osisioma’s call lingered.
“Aunty,” Oji isi called from the passenger’s side of the door as he tried to force the bad door to open, “can I come in?” he asked looking worked up, “your door wouldn’t open. You know it is oka mma na aka onye nwe ya (best handled by the owner) because of the nature of the door,”
Amarachi felt the comic nature of his poor friend amidst her troubled mind. Letting out that faint and stressful smile, she opened the door for Oji isi to enter.
The owner of the load, Mr. Okeoma who happens to be an impatient type angrily came to Amarachi and hollered: “Am I here to wait and watch or to see my loads being loaded in the truck?”
“Oga, don’t be harsh on her nah,” Obinna interjected and went to the trunk and started offloading what had been loaded already, “Oji isi, I need help here,” he blurted angrily in a bid to transfer the aggression to Mr. Okeoma.
Oji isi looked at Amarachi; seeking her approval to offload the goods as Obinna was already doing.
Amarachi wearily looked at him and nodded affirmatively in approval.
“Offload, please,” she managed to whisper in a husky tone.
Oji isi got down at once from his sitting position in the truck and helped Obinna to offload the entire goods.
“Oga isi awo (The boss with grey hair), if you try raising a voice next time on aunty Utu ocha to make her change her mind on the daily Akara we always hope for, then series of fights would never stop knocking at your door daily,” Oji Isi blustered and nodded in the air as a threat to Mr. Okeoma to show the pugnacity of his nature.
Amara couldn’t even utter a word of apologies to Mr. Okeoma for failing to fulfil her promise to him because trying to be vocal would mean she was ready to let the tears she’d been stifling within her to be made evident in the public. She simply waited until the entire loads were transferred to the man meant to be the next to load after her.
“Are you sure of this decision?” Mr. Okeoma finally asked meekly and came to Amarachi’s position, “sorry, I shouted at you earlier. You’ve never failed in your timely delivery; therefore, I will still pay you part of the money for your time,” He brought out five hundred Naira and handed over to her.
“Manage this, please,”
Amarachi was bewildered by such gesture of magnanimity, making her daunted and disturbed. She refused taking the money she believed she never worked for. “No sir, you can’t…”
“I insist,” Mr. Okeoma maintained and forced the money into her palm, “whatever the issue is, God is in heaven and watches over us all and he knows about you too,”
Amarachi still couldn’t talk in appreciation but remained speechless and benumbed as she looked up the sky, thinking if God was aware of what she was passing through in life.
She ignited the engine after many efforts to get the old-fashioned truck’s engine to start; this had become a usual exercise for her. When the old engine finally responded, she drove away without talking to anyone.
Getting home, Amarachi simply dressed up in a fine long figure-hugging gown, picked a few things, and then dropped a note for her mom and left to the Peace Park at upper Iweka. The money that Mr. Okeoma gave her, in addition to what she realised from the Akara sale of that day helped her take care of her transportation to Unizik.
She knew she was seriously needed for the forthcoming examination; therefore, couldn’t live with her conscience if she finally didn’t help Osisioma and other departmental friends to make a good grade for the semester.
The challenge remained that Amarachi had been left behind and needed to spend some time to study; in a bid to catch up, and then teach others as usual.
Getting to Unizik Junction, Amarachi stood by a corner as she remained uneasy and conscious of who sees her after being away from school for a while.
She didn’t just want to attract people’s attention, both with her personality and beauty. She called Osisioma’s number. It was as if Osisioma was already flexing her thumb on the keyboard of her phone, making her take the call at the first buzz.
“Hello, hello… Amy nwa,” she stuttered with a quivering tone and exhilaration, “please, why have you been tormenting me like this, bae?”
“Come and pick me,” she said with a concealed smile, “I’m at Unizik junction. You can do better than just asking so many questions,”
Osisioma was so surprised that Amarachi was at Unizik junction already even without telling her that she was coming. She was very happy to oblige her. She quickly zoomed off with a loud screech from her house at Udoka housing estate to where Amarachi was waiting impatiently.
Getting to Amarachi’s position, Osisioma didn’t mind how she looked; putting on just pyjamas. She rushed to her and gave her a warm hug, getting her circled in her arms and couldn’t let the intelligent poor girl be freed from her embrace.
Amarachi was very happy to see Osisioma after a while. With a friendly smile, she slowly forced herself to be freed from Osisioma’s grip. “Oma, Can I have the lesson notes and textbooks that I came for? I already know why you’d been calling,”
“Hey, my baby girl,” Osisioma shouted and dragged her into the car, “but seriously, you’re looking good, even though it seems like you never stopped crying,” she added and drove off, “your eyes look pale and stressed,” she said as she drove back to her abode, “but seriously and being candid, my numerous calls to you weren’t just for the tutorials but to know how you’d been all these while. I have missed you so much and God knows I have,”
Amarachi remained broody as the short drive back to Osisioma’s house lasted, but never replied to Osisioma’s numerous talks.
She simply kept thinking of how her mom would take the effects from the contents of the note she dropped on the table to let her know she’d left to the same school she dropped out from.
The thoughts were both funny and incredible as she recounted everything in her mind’s eye.
Getting to the house, Amarachi was surprised to see that two of her friends from the Economics department were already waiting with their lesson notes and writing materials ready for her teaching.
“Welcome, guru,” Akunna, the talkative said and pulled Amarachi into a hug, almost pulling her down from the car, “sorry, I couldn’t help but express how I feel,”
“But that shouldn’t be the reason for you to tear her fine dress just for a hug,” Chibunna, the most intelligent boy in the class said smilingly, “we’ve greatly missed such a fantastic brain amongst us, making me realise I still have a long way to go,”
“Tah,” Osisioma retorted with a great smile as she dangled her car keys on her finger, “If blocked heads like us complain, Chibunna would do too,”
“I wonder oo,” Akunna supported and handed over her lesson notes to Amarachi, “Oya, start reading immediately and keep digesting,” she added but Osisioma collected the notes from Amarachi and handed them back to the owner.
“Can you give her a break?” Osisioma intervened and dragged Amarachi into her room, “please, can we now have some lunch,” she added and started bringing out all sorts of foods as if she knew that Amy was coming.
Even though Osisioma came from a rich home, she had that culinary art that made her exceptionally good with dishes. She never depended on maidservants for her meals.
“Just like always,” Amarachi said, finally breaking her long silence, “I have missed your food for real,”
“Of course, I know you did,” Akunna concurred, “me too, I did,”
“You did what!?” Osisioma barked as she rolled her sexy eyes, “you have no share here oo. It’s for Amy all the way,”
“Hand over the notes to me,” Amarachi said and reached out for the lesson notes and textbooks, “I may need two days to read the entire books to cover what you guys did for the semester,”
Chibunna knew that the semester work was voluminous and it’d be an uphill task for Amarachi to read all and understand in just two days. With his hands akimbo, “he took a deep breath, and then whispered into Amarachi’s ear: “Are you sure of this two-day promise?”
Being that such caution came from another guru of the department, Amarachi’s heart pulsated with questions and a bit fright, but she just had to trust her instincts and remain undaunted. “I will try my best,” she reaffirmed.
** AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL
After spending two days reading through the entire eight courses, Amarachi was ready to teach.
No other person apart from Osisioma, Chibunna and Akunna knew about the lectures fixed in preparation for the exams. It was meant to be a surprise to other students; even though rumours of Amarachi’s presence in the school had filtered into many ears, they hadn’t the opportunity to see her because she wasn’t disposed for it.
On the day that Amarachi appeared in the classroom for the tutorial session, it was like a grand festival as the students celebrated her presence in style.
Amarachi was just blushing and happy at the same time for reconnecting with her mates after some months of being out of school. The school’s life she’d left behind suddenly located her again, giving her mixed feelings of joy and sadness.
It took Amarachi just two days to teach the entire eight courses before thinking of leaving the school back to Onitsha to continue her Akara and the truck businesses.
When it was time for Amarachi to go, she went to the park and boarded a bus, having satisfied her conscience for helping her friends out. It was a surprise that the entire students raised a cash of one hundred thousand Naira for her. Osisioma personally gave her an additional fifty thousand naira, making it a total of a hundred and fifty thousand naira.
As Amara waited for other passengers to get the bus filled, she was surprised to see some group of girls; all dressed in white. They stormed the park and dispersed the people with arms. This put the business of the day to a halt.
Amarachi was dragged out of the bus, and her entire money taken away from her.
Uremma, the daughter of Ozo Odenjinji, a well-known politician in Nigeria suddenly appeared with some policemen and arrested Amarachi and took her into the police van, even when she wasn’t allowed to talk or defend herself. The entire girls in white all disappeared on sighting the policemen.
Amarachi was just rattled and didn’t even know what was going on. The best luxury she had at that particular time was calmness until she understands what was going on before she could speak.
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