Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): Home is Where the Heart is!
Ranti bends over his window, his 3rd floor room gives a vantage view of theneigbourhood. It is his 8th year in the country of happiness. He had left home in the Summer of 2002 hoping to return after his doctorate to pursue an academic career in one of the universities.
He picks a strayed leaf from a nearby tree that hangs on his window. It is Autumn. The beginning of the long lifeless season he has learned to endure in the last 8 years.
He remembers his first experience of Autumn, October 2002, three months after he arrived. It wasnot the falling leaves that troubled him but the rude dense atmosphere that greets him every time he left his room on Amberton Street.
He did not like Autumn, he could give half his wardrobe to have his Harmattan back. Harmattan, that season he dreaded most back home now created in him a sense of nostalgia. He longed for Harmattan and craved the dryness and wind it brought, not the dense cold of Autumn and its nascent deaths.
Now 34, Ranti is armed with a doctorate degree from one of the best universities in the world. Ranti shrinks from those Naija things he craved for in the Autumn of 2002; back then when he had wanted to return home.
Home is now a distant land, a vacation spot he visited only twice since he arrived in the US. Images of war which he disputed as not been the entire African story now form his perception of home. It isnot his fault.
The last time he went home was two years ago when he went for an interview at the Federal University. He was employed but subsequent days in the now hostile country gave him a rethink about settling at home.
In those few day at home, he dreaded the road he travelled, he dreaded the police after he saw men in black harass a middle-aged woman in front of a bar where he took his favouriteOdeku-Beer, he dreaded the meat he saw in the market; piles of meat left open for flies to feast on, while the meat sellers talked-on. They showered their wares with spittle from their Kolanut-tinted teeth.
He hated it all but thought he could endure it all- he had survived Government College Igbonla (GOVCO) when boys smoked weed in the forest behind the school field, he had survived the rough life- the early morning waking-up, the beating from senior schoolers who run GOVCO a military-barrack-style.
He had survived the weevil-seasoned beans, the reservoir-tanked water he drank years un-end! He had survived it all before he moved to America. He was back and would surviveit again, he thought.
If Naija consumes anybody, it would not be him. One week into his work, the reality dawned on him, it has been years after he left. A lot had changed:Secondary school students now form the nucleus of various cult groups.He has to endure hours in traffic jams to and from work. That means he has less time to read. To worsen the situation, things didnot look like they were going to change soon considering the crop of politicians in the country.
So that Friday night during Ramadan, after he had endured the long tenuous preaching of a man that emanated from very loud speakers from a Mosque justfew houses away he tried to force a sleep.
All through the preaching, he was infuriated with the Neanderthal-dimension the man approached his preaching. The man preached about a man who was presdetined to die by a car accident and henceforth avoided cars only to be killed by the tyres of a lorry!
He couldnot have had 10 minutes of sleep when it was disrupted again. A shout of*Somebody Praise the Lord* emerged from the speaker of the church beside his house!
He had to endure the thunderous screams of *die*, *die*, *die* and other chattering he could not decipher.
When he had it to the throat, he did something that would later surprise and make him laugh when he thinks about it; he bombarded the roof of the church with stones. For a few seconds, the church seemed to have succumbed to his bombardments as they mellowed the noise.
Unexpectedly like school students trying to pick their voices after a menacing teacher left the class, the congregants resumed their chattering with even louder and bigger voices.
*Can you see what I mean?*, the leader of the congregants declared. *Our enemies have decided to get physical with*, he added. *You will pray that every arrow of the enemy, back to sender and please do not pray in English, this is warfare, the enemies of your life donot speak English, fight them in a language they understand, now!Pray!*
They resumed the prayers with stronger fervor. Ranti regretted ever throwing those beautiful stones. He needed no soothsayer to tell him that his continued stay in the country of his birth would eventually run him mad!
The following morning, he sent an email to the chair of the Computer Science department of University of South Georgia to ask if he could still return to take up an offer that was opened before he travelled.
He waited three days to get a response. The offer was still open.He would get a little less than he is being paid in Nigeria, not to talk of the high accomodation cost in America. Notwithstanding this financial sacrifice, he chose to return. He returned to the country of happiness-The US.
*Days climbed on top of days* *Months climbed on top of months* Years climbed on top of year*
It is 2014! A cloudy morning! The yearning to be home never really did leave Ranti all these years! He considers returning again! It might probably work this time around! The nostalgy is back!
He calledfriends- Matthew, Remi and Ikechukwu. They live in Nigeria.The friends really donot seem to care much about the tumult in the land. After all, they are not directly affected. It is therefore not their business.
Matthew lives a relatively good life in Lagos. He works in a bank. He has three used-cars. Matthew answered: *Oh, the kidnappings? That is a Northern affair, Ranti. Forget about it!*
Remi earns 40 thousand Naira as a school teacher in Ikotun, a surburb of Lagos. He believes God will save the country, for sure!
*What if the country is already saved, so that Nigerians only need allow the salvation to become a reality!* Ranti had first thought of saying this to Remi, but he perished the thought.
He reminded himself he was talking to Remi,who had rationalized the death of his mother as the will of God leaving out the fact that the poor woman had actually died as a consequenceof being taken to a quack clinic in the neighbourhood. The appendicitis operation could have been successful if done somewhere else.
Ikechukwu is of the opinion the political tumult is the plot of Northern Elite to tarnish the image of the president. Ranti told him his piece of mind. Ikechukwu insists it is an ethnic agenda to discredit the president.
The nostalgia washed away gradually. It might not be in his best interest to return yet again after all. The vision of his first return came back. He would not want to relive those nightmares again. He made a choice! He will stay in America!His children will remain here! His children’s children will too!And the children of the children of his children! This is home!