The yellow streams of sunlight flowed through the window into the parlour , casting shadows on everything in it’s way. Papa sat on a cushion chair opposite the glass center table his legs crossed on the stool of polished stool in his front. The other chairs including the one I was sitting on formed a half moon with papa’s chair. Papa was reading a newspaper . He was so engrossed in the newspaper that his bent head only moved when he made adjustments to his optical eyeglass that slid too low towards the open pages of the newspaper. I fixed my gaze on the cover of the newspaper which had on it, the picture of a basketball player with a brown ball in the air. I shifted my gaze to the screen of my smartphone where I had opened an article on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa on art news platform. I tried to concentrate but the twittering of the birds and the voices of mama’s clienteles in the canteen outside Blended into a sound mix that fed my ears. I became tried and was closing all tabs on the smartphone when my ears picked the faint tickling of the alarm sound in my digital watch. I picked my envelope in haste as it was already eight thirty and I was thirty minutes late for work. I stood to my feet tucking my shirt into my trousers.
‘ i am leaving for the depot ‘ I said and fixed my gaze expectantly on my father. His brows curved at it’s sides and he opened another page with the paper rustling as he did.
‘ didn’t I tell you yesterday while in the garden, that you should tell your master you won’t be coming to work today?’ Papa sûaid with his head still bent over the paper.
I recalled immediately , that I told my master the previous day at the soft drinks depot where I worked , that , I won’t be able to come to work because the National identification Number registration I would be going to. The deport management had issued a message that every worker should get the NIN , like wise, my dad’s firm issued similar notice.
The remembrance brought ease to my tense mood. I was happy that the day would be work free and i was about to re open the art article when the sudden realisation of the long queue of the thong at the registration center struck my excitement like the entrance of nightmare in a sweet night dream. My mood was replaced with an hybrid of joy and sadness. I walked to the pink sofa with a feeling of fatigue that swept through my body from my legs . I sat on the sofa and switched off my phone.
As if he sensed my mood, he folded the newspaper and moved his legs from the top of the stool and placed the newspaper on it.
‘Ayo, let us leave now before the queue gets longer’ he said and adjusted his wrapper as he stood up and left for his room.
I walked to the kitchen at the back of the canteen where the structure faced the dirt road . mama stood by a dwarf table that held two gas cookers in the kitchen , the smoke from the palm oil she was bleaching in a frying pan spiralled towards the ceilings and escaped through the windows as they reached the hard surface of the ceilings.
‘ stay outside ‘ she said with her voice a bit high . I walked out quickly and the oil made sounds close to deep sibilant and hissing sound of an empty plastic tube.
When she had finished with the early process of the stew. She came out of the kitchen coughing.
‘ take care ma’ I said as she walked closer. She stood and used the tip of her wrapper to wipe her eyes that made her look like she was crying.
‘ thank you ‘ she said and coughed again.
‘ we are leaving for the registration center’ I said. ‘ I and papa’.
‘ pray you don’t meet Bayo’ she said.
Bayo works at the NIN center and he was among the oldest clienteles that comes to the canteen. I was surprised to hear her words about him. They were friends.
‘ we fought yesterday over a simple thing’ she said and turned to the kitchen’s entrance.
‘ your father was here yesterday when he began to haul insults at me because I didn’t bring his food on time. I even apologized but he kept on until we began to trade words’
I shook my head and thought about what she Said silently until papa walked towards us.
‘ mummy Ayo, we are going to the registration center’ He said, ‘ we won’t be late if we are there on time’ .
We walked to the dirt road and we took a bus to the heart of Ore town. When we got to the center we met a thong on queues as long as a Boa. My heart almost sank as we joined the growing queue. We stood for a long time with voices of the people like the buzzing of a swarm of bees . The crowd of people with their cloths and skin glistering with sweat of the sun, spoke of what had been happening at the center before our arrival. They spoke of the machines that were too slow and of the queue that moved the fastest. I was still busy trying to hear what the people were saying when I saw Bayo. I shook and fatigue swept through my body again. Papa saw him seconds later and said:
‘ we would register quick, can’t you see Bayo’
I was surprised at his words and I became hopeful . it is just a mere fight , i said to my self and smiled. My hopes were chattered when our turn came. Bayo proved to be all he had been hiding — a perfect and silent devil!
He filled our forms taking our details with a voice that spoke of pure anger. After he was done, he told us to seat and resumed the activity with others. He didn’t call us to take photographs nor did he input the details into the computer. He went on with his activity and he took photographs of people until our forms were buried under a huge pile of paper. My old fear returned . my palms began to sweat. I turned and looked at papa, you could tell from his face that he was still hopeful. After about half an hour of anticipation, the haze of hope cleared from his face. I thought he would speak his mind to Bayo as he always did to people like him who turned into gods over night, but he never did.
All through the journey back home, papa spoke about the fight mama and Bayo had. He expressed shock and disbelief as he scratched his head totally overwhelmed with anger.
‘ people always forget that Under this clouds, we are all under God’s feet. He owns everything and can do anything’ he said and brought his handkerchief to clean the tiny beads of sweat around his neckline. While he was doing this, I was in my own very thought. I promised and resolved to pay Bayo for his actions. Walking home I wondered how I would to it. During the family prayer that night , papa made emphasis on forgiveness. He urged all listening ears to forgive as Christians and set away any anger. I knew the sermon was meant for mama and I. When we all went to sleep I decided to forgive and forget the incidence but it lingered in my heart till I fell asleep.
The next day, I dressed early for work. I arrived only few minutes to eight. I settled down and began to sign the various transaction slips. My work at the depot was simple but hectic job. I signed slips of the delivery vans before they would be loaded into the vans and each van came from different small deports from all parts of Ore to buy the soft drinks at a very cheap price. I was half away into my work when a blue van drove into the yard and parked at the entrance of the depot. I recognised the van immediately , it belongs to Bayo’s depot firm. Suddenly the resolve I had the previous night was drowned in a thirst for vengeance.
If anything like deja vu ever exist, what I did bore some resemblance to it. When I received the slip I refused to sign it . I signed other transaction slips until we ran out of soft drinks. I enjoyed the ecstasy of the moment with the drivers face in anxiousness. No one would play god with my father and leave un scratched. When good sense descended on the driver he returned to his firm. A while after the driver left ,guilt ate into my ecstasy. I was ashamed that i revenged. Though I had nothing to do in reversal of my action , I made my mind up that in the future, I would apologize if the van visits the deport again. I prayed to God for forgiveness and after i had prayed , the guilt faded , and I returned to the good man I was, under the clouds and under God’s feet.
graduate. He lives in Ore, Odigbo, Ondo state and wrote in via email@example.com