Everything was different on the return to my country. The unnecessary shine of the Nigerian sun darkened us. Our schools were different as well. We learnt different, strange things from our individual schools. Shanna entered the federal university opposite us. I just graduated from primary school, skipping Primary 6 while Halim entered the end of senior secondary school; Ekong entered the beginning of senior secondary school, and Wole was in his second part of his junior secondary school.
Shanna and I were day-students while the rest were in boarding houses. We arrived home from our schools at almost the same times. I had a stronger relationship with Shanna than with my elders. She could tell me anything. I could tell her anything. But not everything.
Shanna was the cook in the house. She imprisons me with her captivating meals. Mum praises her while Dad only gives a nod of approval to her culinary skills. Shanna’s hair ended at her smooth fleshy shoulder-blades while me and the rest have well-cut, short hairs as if tailored. Our hairs are not bald, neither are they long.
Port Harcourt roads require much to be desired. Our family car was sent to repairs because of the woeful deterioration. With the car at sick bay, Dad had to use Mum’s business bus.
I might be mesmerised by my eldest sister’s cooking but Dad has his head over his heels at any food blessed by Mum’s hands. That is why they had nights of incredible, unreproductive sex. Humph! You would laugh at this, I bet. It is just the truth.
To strengthen this unity, Dad and Mum interchangeably use the business bus for “kabu kabu”. At a tender age, Dad taught me theoretical driving. I still have the notebooks on it till date. There were promises that I’ll handle the steering soon enough. I am biting my nails till that day comes.
We have fruit trees in our compound but the birds feast on them. We eat fruits once in two years. You know why. Shanna and I are not television addicts but my brothers can die if the TV set was missing. Although each of them wore medicated glasses worth thousands of naira, they struggle and fight for the person to put his face near the set. I was glad Dad packed the expensive TV set away to his room in annoyance. My brothers no longer craved for such a thing anymore, now that they are in boarding houses. They no longer wore glasses even.
Hmm! Strange life. There’s so much goodness in this world. So much happiness. I had a best friend in school, Udi. He comes from Lokoja. He has a Nupe mother. But neither his Mum nor his Dad brought him up. He grew up with his father’s sister’s son in Lagos, the rustic part. A hard man, you would say. I learnt a lot from him as a peer.
We took ourselves to our houses and were accepted warmly. You shouldn’t think that Udi’s a bad guy. I learnt all the good things and knew all the bad things. Well, any bad thing. He’s the only guy I’m always with, most of the time. Which makes him my best friend.
There was a time when Udi and I sat on our compound. He nudged at me on seeing Shanna catwalk us by, with her head held high, and asked me where her beauty came from. I laughed. You see, Shanna has this problem. She knew she was beautiful. Ouch! It’s like a pin biting you. She does not know everyone is beautiful. You comprehend?
Udi almost “toasted” Shanna but decided against it. I use to jeer jokingly at him on that issue, reminding him how small he is in her eyes. Udi’s my man. He’s not a bad guy. A toughie, though. But a good guy. In his own way. That’s why I have no problems with him. So smooth and easy-going. No qualms at all.
I visited Shanna’s house in school at her invitation. It was loaded!!! I wonder where she got her resources. When I inquired whether it was from Mum and Dad, the answer was negative, followed with a little chuckle. That explained everything. I stared at her, bewildered. Why should she do it? I told her how unnecessary and harmful it was. She just gave an ignorant shrug. She boasted of her success and willingness to continue. As the baby of the house, I kept mute. I didn’t want her to put me in my place. Her house had everything our house hadn’t. Funny, isn’t it? You could say Shanna was living in a double paradise.
I did not want to talk anymore. I was afraid I might say too much. Too “unnecessary” much. She might think I’m envious. But I wonder. Envious of what? Ha! Hmm! I’m just being silly, like I’ve always been. When I think too far. Or maybe too near. I don’t know. Anyway, that’s Shanna for you. A perfect sister. Or is she?