An orphan in the wings?- Isidore Emeka Uzoatu

An orphan in the wings?- Isidore Emeka Uzoatu


When my beloved mother passed on as the year rolled in, I had a dream. In it, I saw myself rushing to the secretariat of the orphans of the world. My aim was to promptly register as member on account of the many privileges those who had lost both of their parents are often afforded here on Terra Firma. O yes, I had earlier lost my father some donkey years back and was infinitely convinced I had qualified.

I was however to receive the shock of my life as the rather scrawny – no pun intended – fellow on the front desk promptly inquired the whereabouts of this mother of mine. Of course, I promptly answered with the exuberance of my certainty. The mortuary, I enthused before clarification, the one in my home town – in case they needed to send someone to confirm.

Thus, rather than admission I was cast a most insignificant of glances and ordered to first go and bury my mother before coming with a long list of additional requirements. These earlier orphans can be mean, man. The door was not only promptly shut on my face but with such vehemence that I needed no further lesson in understanding to do the needful. No doubt, I left the lonely edifice deflated like a bag that some twenty percent of its contents had evaporated in a split half-second.

I had hoped to break my long silence on these pages with something like an open letter to the non-orphans of the world whom I thought I had left behind, but alas I’m much wiser now. You see, I had just paid the price for my life-long crime of obstinacy. Actually, I was driven to that orhan registration desk ASAP to possibly avoid conscription. O yes, I am forever willing to enlist in groups by personal volition. Though this carries back to experience acquired during the years of the Nigerian Civil War, it only became prominent again following my mother’s death and this dream of mine.

As well, it served to bring back the fact that the orphan state comes in different shades and hues. For instance, there are pediatric and geriatric orphans. If you are in any doubt ever, it will serve best to remind you that while some orphans blame their life woes on their loss of parent, those whose either or both parents are still alive are the ones responsible for their upkeep. Different strokes, you dare deem but suffice it to note that many converses abide real time in real life. Pardon the digression…

Now, during the Biafra war like I had mentioned, you needed to see the bestiality visited on fresh conscripts to the war effort. Perhaps just because they had enlisted willingly just an hour ago, these animals in Biafra Army uniforms haunted those they captured in their raids as though they were the reason they joined the army. Most conscripts end up so traumatized that they even gave up the ghost before their mobilization into the army. I can gesture – then and now – that deep down some of them would have willingly joined the ‘enemy’ army in anger.

So you can see why I did nothing else upon my mother’s death but look for the nearest barracks of orphans to volunteer for service. But the way the older and more privileged in ‘our’ number are going about it, methinks that they’d no sooner stop at nothing but order my head shaved of hair. Next I will be dressed in sack clothing and mandated to do untoward things for their fancy. Afore now I overheard they used to have freshman orphans dressed up in clothes made from empty rice bags. But not any longer. The version of the story that I heard goes that they now prefer to don the material themselves on account of what the price of rice is talking in the market. To tell you the truth, stories like this end up painting the orphan state in such lurid colors that becoming one as late as they are re-programming it gets on my nerves.

As I wait on end – with my brother and sister, of course – the prayer is that those that will follow after us should endeavor to enlist as soon as possible to avoid my wrath. Yes, I cannot say it any louder than this but I will sure as hell be a very mean orphan. Like that one that closed the door to my face at their secretariat in this dream of mine that has drifted unto the page of reality.  



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