Sorrow for student


Material Information

Sorrow for student
Physical Description:
67 p. : ;
Okeke, Emmanuel Ndubuisi, 1935-
Pacific Printers
Place of Publication:
Yaba, Nigeria
Publication Date:


fiction   ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
by Emmanuel N. Okeke.
General Note:
Cover title.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 000972847
oclc - 21477636
notis - AEU8368
System ID:

Full Text

Brain Pills .. .. .. .. 5

Latin Translation .. .. ... 7

Powerful Effect of Brain Pills .. 10

Examination .. .. ... .. 13

A Story by The Dead 16

Patrick lust for Love .. .. 19

He encounters inconveniences .. 22

Uninvited Guest .. .. 26

The Big Promise .. .. .. .. .. 28

The Abnormal Visitor .. .. .. .. 31

The Happy Relief and The Sad Events .... 34

Back to School and The Occultist .. 3'8

The Fake Telegram .. .. ... .. 43

New Year ... .. 48

The Magic Blotting Paper and The Sensation in the Hall .52

A Letter from The Dead .. 57

All Quiet on the Hospital Front .. .. .. 59

Most Unexpected but very Welcome News .. .. 62





My very sincere thanks are due to my Vice Principal, Mr
A. Fakankun, B.A., and to my senior Sciencemaster, Mr P. A.
Matthews, M.A., B.SC., both of Zixton Grammar School,
Ozubulu, for their kindness in going through the manuscript,
and later reading the proof. They made very valuable correc-
tions in this novel.
I gratefully tender my thanks to the distinguished Peter
Enahoroh, the Sunday Times Editor, Lagos, for his encouraging
comment after reading an advanced copy of "SORROW FOR
And the last, but not the least, I wish to express my
gratitude to my former master, Mr Patrick Udegbunam (now
a tutor in St. Monica's Modern School, Ogbunike) for present-
ing me with the first novel I read.


March, 1961.




IT WAS DURING the examination season,
when boys with zeal and ambition seek the most
serene and tomb-like places for their studies.
And under a cave-like shrub sat Patrick.
In his lap he held his book with his left hand;
with his right hand he instinctively revolved a
round marking-pencil of normal length. At
intervals, he mused to the effect of his reading.
After a while he paused and began to ponder,
half using his pencil for a chewing-stick. Soon
the corner of his left eye became an obstacle to a
reflection of light pointing from his side. He
screwed his eyes to the corner of the reflection in
order to bring the object of the glitter into focus.
He proceeded to visualize the object. Not quite
forming a perfect image (for about half the object
was covered by dead leaves), he reached his hand
to pick it. Having picked it he scrutinized it. It
was a bottle with a narrow-neck and black thick
cork, bulging at the edges, and with flat labelled
sides, and an oval bottom. It contained some
silver-coated pills, Patrick rubbed the bottle hard
on his cheek to clean out the dirt on the label.
After this performance, Patrick was able to read
what was written on the label. "Brain ...."
He held his breath and cast a searching glance
around, to be sure he was not being spied or


All that Patrick could read from the label
Extra strong (Ideal Brain Tonic Pills)
Recommended for: Nervousness, Fatigue, Feeble-mindedness,
Tired Brain, Chlorosis.
Active ingredients: 12.5% pure lecithine, 32.5%
liquorice root, 50% admixtures.
Swallow 2-3 pills three times a day.

"Now, Patrick, this is a God-send, you know,"
he was telling himself while pocketing. the bottle
slowly. "You must remember you prayed very
hard last night, begging the Almighty to help you
pass your examination. You have begged, and it
has been given to you! a bottle of potential-
Potential wisdom, to be turned into kinetic
knowledge by you-you-you Patrick. You!"
He brought out the bottle and was looking it over
again when something rustled.
He screwed up his face-alas! he was the tenant
of a devilish rattle-snake! The snake was in it's
full curl; the head moved inches above the curl;
spot-black in colour.
The extraordinary sight and hypnotising stare
of the snake met him like a night-mare. He slipped
the bottle into his pocket with a dead motion.
He fancied God and tried to pray, but his
eyelids could not come together; his tongue
couldn't talk; and on the whole, he thought it
childish. He was in absolute cul-de-sac of danger.
There seemed to be no alternative to death.
Something must be done and done quickly.
He tried to believe that the snake was harmless
and essayed a step-another-again-a pause-and
then he crabbed his fingers on the ground and
finally made himself ready for a sprint.


But the sceptic man in Patrick could not
believe the snake's strange serenity, and he foolishly
tried a turn to make sure it was a real snake. But
before he completed his reverse, the snake was on
him with full speed. He sprang impulsively, and
learnt to do a sprint in the shrubs.
He won the race, for he was the first to gain
the road and finding that his opponent had lost
hope, he felt for the bottle and finding it. Patrick
went home, a happy heart full of interesting tale.

WHEN THE LAST-bell rang, all the students
lolled up lazily to see out the literature master.
Some were already packing for home and
many were on their way with a keen appetite to the
dining hall. Generally the students are always
hungry on Fridays because they take only Quaker
Oats and bean bulbs in the morning before going to
Probably, they all thought Literature was
the last subject for the day, but to their unex-
pected grief another Tutor entered just after the
exit of the latter master. And-alas! it was the
Latin Master. After a reluctant "Good-day Sir,"
the students sat for the lesson.
From the seat near the window, Patrick saw
the tutor write on the black-board LATIN-
TRANSLATION, and perversely turned out his
face and looked askance through the window. His
attention was immediately arrested by two fighting
goats. The scene of combat cheaply bought his


interest, and for long, Patrick was entertained by
these impulsive combatants.
And it came to pass, that his inattention
became noticed. "Hit his head!" was heard from
the tutor. Patrick immediately swung round his
head, but was only a second too late-for before
the echo of the command died down, a bumping
knock from the back seat cried on his head with a
deep angry tone.
There was a squeak of laughter in every corner
of the room. Patrick rubbed his head mildly, and
smiled-rather foolishly.
But the worse was to follow. "Stand up !"
He stood. "What are we doing ?" snorted the
"T- Trans- Transla- ."
"Trans what !" the tutor yelled. "Transla-
tion ?" "Give him another- ". But before this
command was completed, a rap ricochetted on
poor Patrick's head. "00 !" he moaned and let
his head droop in silence. His arms trailed off into
nothingness; the whole room reeled before his
eyes; his feet having no relation with the sandals
they stood on, he sank into his seat-a sack of
sorrow and lamentation.
This time the drama took a tragic turn. The
whole room contrasted the state after the former
operation in an atmosphere of strange tranquility.
The tutor was touched, and he reflected with
apologetic smile. Some students planted their
eyes on the doer with concrete repugnance and
torturing animosity. Other students looked at the
sufferer with pitying reproach.


When Patrick realized that the two punishing-
raps came from the back seat, he wheeled round
his neck to note his executor. He occularly
criticized him for some seconds and finally with-
drew with quietude.
"Sorry Paddy," apologised the tutor. Patrick
hummed his response in a low but indifferent voice.
Then tears oozed down from his eyes forming two
full moon-like pools on the desk before him.
He turned away his face in a mixture of sorrow,
anguish and bitter disgrace, and looking through
the window, he discovered that the two-fighting
goats had disappeared, as if they had been there
only to play the satan.
"You see, Paddy, it does not pay you to
neglect your lessons," the tutor advised. "Remem-
ber the story of the grasshopper. Verbum est
Patrick never turned. He felt a guilty con-
science of what the tutor has just said, however he
mused with content. "The brain pills are there
of course." At length, Patrick turned his head to
find that the class room was in entire emptiness. Not
that his ears did not hear the last bell jingle, or the
shuffling noise made by the students when going
away; but .... the fact is-he was enveloped in a
black blanket of reverie He started up and
vanished into the dining-hall.
With a remarkable dexterity, Patrick was soon
displaying his cutlery on a well pounded mountain-
ous heap of garri, when a letter was slipped into
his hand by the college letter-distributor. He
frowned at this interruption and the lines of his


brow compressed in a corrugated heap in the
centre while he inspected the letter.
On recognizing the sender, his face brightened
with a broad smile. He stood up heavy and
happy, and mused surreptitiously, "From my love".

AFTER the lunch the students streamed out
gaily from the dining-hall in a shower of jest and
ribald comment.
As they were passing by the notice board;
some boys stopped; others followed and soon the
students crowded the notice board. Patrick was
already flat on his bed, but when he heard the noise
made by the students running in and out with
sheets of papers, and pencils, he opened his eyes
"What's the hell cried Patrick to the nearest
boy almost on his way out.
"More food!". Shouted back the boy and
was off. Patrick pyjamas clad was half-way the
dining hall when the boy who gave him the wrong
information caught him by the arm and .... "Go
to the board, you glutton!" Patrick looked up,
and licked the corners of his lips. "Something
special?" he queried. "Say Seasonal!" replied
the student.
"Examination ?"
"Yea-Next Monday."
Patrick thoughtfully walked back into his
dormitory. He was in secondary four then. It
was the final examination which was to decide whe-
ther he would be coming back to school. Whether


he would be one of the students to be selected for
the West African School Certificate examination
the next year. And finally, whether he was going
to enjoy happy holidays or not.
On his bed, he closed his eyes but his mind was
awake and racing. Suddenly he started up and
stole away quietly into the box room. From the
floor of his box, he brought out a thick labelled
bottle. This was the brain pills. He tip-toed
back to his bed with the bottle rapped under his
He had an unsound siesta and was the first to
wake when the bell rang.
While the students were making for the class-
room he made his way to the college tap, where he
brought out two tablets from his bottle and gulped
them without a pause. He was soon in the class
seriously swotting his history with a deeply drawn
countenance. Before it was half the period for
prep, Patrick could recite half his notes on history.
He read with such clarity and comprehension that
he imagined himself taking the first position at the
end of the examination.
When he raised his head and looked around,
there was not the faintest film of respect left in him
for those honest studious students in the classroom.
He thought they were all groping in the dark. They
were merely fetching water with a teaspoon to fill a
When the bell rang for break, he went into the
dormitory and took more pills, neglecting the vital
effect of excess. When he entered the class he
was all ambition. He walked in a manner which
attracted the interest of other students. He was


soop on his seat in profound concentration. His
head was supported by his palms; his elbows
pivoted on his desk. For long, he read without a
At length the warning bell went. It meant
that it remained five minutes more to dismissing.
After the warning bell, Patrick pulled up with a
deep sigh. He looked dazed for some moment
and' smiled with satisfaction. He turned his face
to his neighbour and called, "Hello! Theo!"
Theophilus raised his head. "Myself? he asked,
looking at Patrick. "Yep. Yourself. I-I can
recite my note!" said Patrick beaming with pride
and superciliousness.
"You mean the whole note?"
"The whole! In a twinkle of an eye!"
Theophilus planted on him an envious glare
which began with a serpent smile. All the eyes in
the class turned on him in hot antagonism. They
smiled at him mockingly. Patrick thought they
were admiring him. He stood up and was
parotically reciting his notes when he was cried
down with such an outburst of sarcasms that sent
him staggering for his seat. For the rest of the
period, the whole class was in a mighty mimic.
They roared in laughter and mimicry. Boys were
putting their heads in twos and threes, pouring
ridicule on Patrick with pantomimic laughter which
reached a convulsive grimace. Patrick was greatly
disappointed. Even his'Theo'was heading a party!
"Theo," he pleaded, "it's cruel to laugh at a
friend you know." But the party laughed the
louder-"Theo" with a wild red laughter.
Patrick sat up heavily and walked out quietly in


silent sorrow amidst a chaotic class of laughter
and shouts.
It was not long before the final bell jingled and
all the boys dispersed.

ON MONDAY morning, the students were
early to wake; early to bathe; early to-everything!
.This was the day for examination. Every
corner of the compound displayed foolscaps and
coloured blotting papers, rulers, etc. Whites were
whiter. The mangiest boy clad clean. Discipline
was higher that day. The cooks having cooked
early, the students were quick to the class making a
finishing touch in their notes.
The bell rang twice and the students wasted no
time in sending out their note books and all
suspicious matters. Question papers were soon
distributed. When the hands of the clock touched
eight, the final bell went.
Others were still reading the first paragraph
when Patrick covered the first page of his foolscap
with writing. Before the students could finish
reading down the question paper, Patrick was
shouting, "Paper! Paper please!" All the students
turned their eyes on him. They felt cold and fear
of him. The invigilator brought him a new
foolscap paper with pleasure.
Patrick was soon at work with his new paper.
The invigilator picked up his former work and
began to read it. At length he smiled and mut-
tered, "Clever chap!" He was about to keep the
paper when a loud shout, "Paper" by Patrick sent


the paper fluttering to the floor from his hand. The
students were all eyes. He continued on his next
paper without a pause.
"Thirty minutes-", the tutor was about to
say, "Thirty minutes gone," when Patrick shouted,
"More paper!" "But you must allow me finish,
sir," advised the tutor. And Patrick apologised.
His play was now too monotonous to tolerate.
All looked down on him as an impostor. Even the
students in the opposite hall felt disturbed. The
invigilator in the opposite hall was irritated, and
raising his tone, "Mr Mmecha! Make sure that
fellow is not writing pages of blunders," he said
jokingly. He was talking to Patrick's invigilator-
The students in the two halls chuckled. Patrick
was depressed. He coughed for courage. He
was recompensed when his invigilator replied jes-
tingly, "Eh-Mr Okafor, mind your own hall
there; the boy is a brilliant chap."
Before it#was forty-five minutes, Patrick asked
for strings. He tied his papers up and was the
first to go out from the hall. The invigilator, being
his class tutor, was marking his paper already
when he left.
When the examination ended news spread that
Patrick scored 88 % in History. Patrick revived it
with pride. Patrick's name was famous all over
the compound. He was the hero of the day. He
chewed more pills. Patrick was now fond of
passing where a conversation was going on. He
moved with high company. And when he was
walking with a party, he suddenly said: "Excuse
me friends, I go to my studies." The party nodded
with childlike consent. Some thought they had


never heard such good and courteous intonation
before. Patrick, hands in pockets, and head
inclined, sauntered away with an expensive air.
The next morning, Patrick entered the hall,
chilly and cheerless. He was feeling fever and
headache. However, he.finished his examination
that day without disappointment.
On the third morning, the headache and fever
tripled with constant catarrh. He entered the hall
very unwell. The paper was Chemistry, that
morning. Patrick did it roughly on a page and
passed his paper. He left the hall for his bed. All
the day Patrick slept. He had a troubled night;
woke at unusual hour, went to the latrine once.
The fourth morning brought him in the class
sore and sick. He trembled with the body-quake.
He sat down painfully and was looking down on
his question paper hopelessly.
It was not long before the show commenced.
It was a show indeed. A show of hands and legs
which started like a drill. Patrick was solving a
problem in Arithmetic when he suddenly started up
and made three rigid jumps on the floor, with
hands stretched above his head as if to touch the
ceiling. He fixed the invigilator with a terrible
steady red set of eyes. "Call for the doctor!"
Patrick commanded with a clarion voice, "Call for
the doctor I say! Call doctor you swine!" He was
advancing murderously towards the defenceless
The students stirred a little and remained
quiet in quagmire. No one moved. No one
wrote. No one winked. The tutor stared agape,


with wide eyed perplexity. Everyone was men-
tally looking for an exit and waiting for a signal.
At last it came, Patrick raised a desk with a
surprising strength. He was about to be in action
when a blind blow from behind sent him flat on the
floor. He swooned. Some of the students were
already yards away from the scene. The few that
remained, swooped on Patrick. He was immedia-
tely gathered to the Principal's office, from whence
he was transferred to the College bus and carried
to the hospital to meet the doctor.

THE REAL THING! My dear readers, the real
thing! Read not this with prejudice. It is a.truth
unveiled; a matter of facts and few fictions. There
was a note under his- pillow entitled: "THE
Patrick was now three days in the hospital.
He was well enough to think and remember. He
remembered the book he left under the pillow on his
bed in the school. He gave order that the book
should be brought to him, followed by repeated
instructions that it should be neither opened nor
When the book was brought, it was handed to
the Principal who after being told of the peculiar
instructions of Patrick, was tempted to reading it.
He took the book calmly and walked quietly into
his office. In his office, he sat behind his shelves
on a huge arm chair turning every page, and
making a quick perusal of every line he could find.


At last he found it. The page was marked
asterisks with red ink. It was written with black
ink-the black story. It ran thus:

I am writing at half-past-one, Thursday night.
I went to read in the morning but could not. It
started on Wednesday morning after drinking my
brain pills. I drank again. If I am right, it was
yesterday evening that I sat on my stool convulsed
in epileptic seizure. Seeing that I could not even
read a sentence, I went to bed.
The curious thing in it is that I have slept from
2 p.m. to 7 p.m. in order to swot in the night. But
before it was half the period for prep, I went to my
bed not knowing that I was not to come up from
there alive!-I feel like easing myself. I am now
going to the latrine ..................
I return. When I was going to the latrine I
felt afraid.
But the fact that I am alive again restored my
courage. When I reached the latrine, the first door
bore, "Knock and wait." "Wait for what?" I
asked myself. The instructions seemed to be from
a living voice. So I gently opened the door, but
not a soul was seen. On the other hand I have
never seen such instruction written on that door
before. So I banged it in fear and went to the
other lavatory and eased myself.
Let's go back to where I left for the latrine,
lest I forget. As' I was sleeping, it was something
past eleven o' clock when the noise of shoes woke
me. I made no move but opened my eyes. I saw
three men in black suits and walking about hastily.


I have heard of this before; people seeing the
moving-ghosts when they are seriously sick. I had
dismissed such stories with mocking disbelief.
But today my curious experience has appointed
me the evangelist of this Cathedral of Ghosts!
I closed my eyes in tears; and when I looked
again. The shoe-men who had disturbed my
sleep had melted into a dark cloud of invisibility.
I slept again.
In my sleep (or death perhaps), I could
remember I was in a wide grassy world, full of hills,
mountains and trees. I know myself; or to be
vivid, I knew I was asleep... saw my own body
on the bed! without my eyes open! 4 walked
about in the new world. A sixth sense was telling
me that I will never enter this present world again.
I saw distant boys and friends cracking jokes in a
stand-up conference. I don't know whether they
all still live. But I am sure I saw some who had
been dead for long.
Now, as I am writing, the cock crows. I joined
them for sometime and then left. As I walked
alone in the vast open waste of land, I began to
think how I could get out of this prison. I tried
many unsuccessful means which I can't remember
now. I shouted and shouted in vain.
Since I came to my school, I have not attended
any church. I have been reading books which
generally hold a view that nothing can be known
of a God but material phenomena. Having been
convinced, I also maintained this opinion.
But how, I cannot say who gave me the idea to
pray. I really knelt down and closed my palms in
prayers. Immediately I began to imagine the


holiness and power of God, my eyes opened!
I jumped down from my bed breathing fast.
That proved to me that my breath had been sus-
pended. I walked straight to'the corridor where
I discovered that the hostel master was still reading.
I asked him what the time then was, and he told me
it was half-past-one. Then I started to write this
There is no room for critics in this story. It is
too true. It will be known to the world after I die

When the principal read the last sentence, he
sat up dreamily and yawned deeply. He decided
to take the book himself to Patrick.
When the Principal arrived in the hospital he
was directed to Patrick's corner. As Patrick saw
the Principal coming with the book he jerked up
madly, with his right hand stretching demandingly
for the "black book."
"Did you read it?" he asked contemptuously.
The Principal smiled deceitfully and denied, "How
could I Patrick ?" Patrick reflected with a guilty
smile, and apologised for his disrespect.
"It is my dark life-very private!" he explained.

It is now holidays; and it has been three weeks
since Patrick returned from the hospital. All but
few of his school mates have been calling at his
house to welcome Patrick. For this purpose, he has
been staying indoors.


It was a fine evening--the weather was warm,
electric lights glimmered here and there. The
clouds big and blue. The stars sparkled in gallant
galaxy. Above all, the moon sat in golden glory.
Patrick, a tall sombre figure in trig trousers,
and thick sweater, with a red silk muffler up under
his chin strode along the street.
When he was walking opposite the cinema,
he stopped short and looked. The crowd around
^ the board promised a fine show that night. He
was about crossing the road when a call mewed
from behind.
The voice was of feminine nature. A voice
familiar to Patrick. He turned, and was bewitched
by an enchanting smile from a girl of striking
beauty. "Oh Joe! Are you?"
"Just I," she replied charmingly.
Patrick groped for words. He scratched his
fore-head unnecessarily.
"Do you-where are you going?" he said
with a quick smile.
"Home, I'm from the public library. When
did you start your holidays ?"
"About three weeks today."
"Three weeks!"
"Three weeks," repeated Patrick.
"And you never visited ."
"Anyway, I have not visited any one since
I returned. I was visited instead."
"Can't understand you," she said with an
apathetic smile. Do you mean ..... "
"I mean what I say and say what I mean,-you
see I spent the last two weeks preceding our
vacation in the hospital."


"Hospi!-telling me!"
"I swallowed too much for the exam, and had
the mental-kick or kink call it anything." They
both burst into a fit of laughter. The girl laughed,
laughed noiselessly, convulsively, she could not
stop and there was no joy in it any more.
Patrick no more laughed, he merely supported
her laughter with fixed smiles. He began to
wonder if such a little joke could cause such a
lengthy laughter.
"Well, that's life," he shuddered.
At length, Joe recovered from her fit. "Oh,
Paddy, I will be going," she said scratching her arm
pit and yawning.
"Will you?"
"Yes-it's night."
"O.K.-you must be going-but wait a minute
please .... ."
"Carry on," she said, trying to hide her
"When .... when .... when will. .."
"When will what!-make man, it's late-my
parents would get worried," she kicked hard on
the ground.
"That horse kick won't do, Joe. Don't be
hard on me, my dear."
"All right Paddy, say on," she allowed, with
suspended impatience."
"When when will you be chanced to visit
me," Joe chuckled.
"Is that all?" she asked.
"That's all," replied Patrick with satisfaction.
"But .... when did you develop that style
of speaking ?" they both laughed.


"Well-one must always encounter some
friction when one loves."
"No-No-I don't see with you there. What has
love to do with that? After all there is nothing
novel about a friendly visit, good-bye!" She
doubled out. Patrick pursued.
"Wait! Wait! Don't..... when will....."
"Expect me on Saturday morning!" the girl
shouted back without a stop.
"O.K. I am wait .... !-waiting." "He slowed
to a shaky walk while his lungs tried to find
enough air to make it act like a heart instead of
a free pendulum.
This was his Joe. Josephine, a pretty girl of
perfect symmetry. The unspotted beauty-whom
no youth passed without fascinating furore-the
light of his life.

ON THE MORNING of Saturday, Patrick
was peculiarly serviceable to his father. He cleaned
the buttons, shoes and carried out all relevant tasks.
Before his father sat down for his pap, he was
already sending out the bicycle. He returned. His
father was drinking pap and stopping at intervals
as if to count the number of spoonfuls he had taken.
"Daddy you will be late you know-make
haste," cautioned Patrick kindly. The father
glanced gloomily on his watch. "It's only twenty-
five past seven," he reported.
"Yes-twenty five past, why not twenty five
to-cruel clock! What if the girl comes now?


Eh!" he queried his father thoughtfully and was
looking down on him with wide eyes as if deman-
ding the answer.
Suddenly some one tapped on the door.
Patrick advanced defensively and fortified the door
with his body, "Go! Dad in!" he said in a loud
whisper. He turned round, slamming'the door and
was telling his father that the knock was not on
their door when the tap was repeated once more.
"Do you hear that!" asked his father. "Open
that door-wide open!"
The door was opened and a man sneaked his
head into the room. "Oh nebor, you still de
chop?" asked the man.
"0! yes, I de duam. Come ....."
"Ah, Oga, you no go go work? Quarter don
"Quarter what!"
"Quarter eight."
"But my own say haf pas seven."
"Your own na clock? Not Dat Kuturu thing
una de buy?-my own na superior radio time."
They both laughed.
The father stood up and Patrick packed away
the plates with satisfaction.
Now the father is away to work. So Patrick
re-swept the parlour, cleaned and re-arranged the
furniture-on the parlour bed, he spread his well
washed and ironed white bed sheet. After putting
all the things in order he left for the shop to see what
he could find for entertainment. He bought a
packet of biscuit for eight pence, sixpence worth of
toffee and three pence worth of iced oranges.


While he was away, the parlour was put into
a jovial rout of children.
When he was returning, he heard the noise
and quickened his steps dubiously. He arrived
at the door and threw it open with a sudden push.
The children toppled themselves on the dressed
parlour bed. They rumpled and scrambled for the
bed sheet, each. fighting to wrap his body with it.
The door banged violently and the children
scattered in flight. He caught one by the neck and
without pause, gave him a cruel knock on the brow.
The child cried and danced wide and wild. He
rubbed his brow furiously as if a hot lead has been
dabbed on it. The bruise swelled. Patrick felt
fear. It was after the knock that he discovered that
the victim was his junior brother. "Take! Paul!
Take! Look!"
Patrick was pleading and pushing a penny
into Paul's clenched fingers. Paul flung the penny
away and fell down crying and kicking about
madly. Patrick called his junior sister who came and
carried Paul away with sisterly affection.
Patrick then re-arranged the seats, and removed
the soiled and ruffled bed sheet. He was re-
dressing the parlour bed when some one rapped
on the door.
"Is that Joe?" he asked, stopping short and
looking towards the door.
"Yes," answered the voice behind the door.
"Wait a minute please," he said and ran to the
cupboard at the extreme end of the parlour. He
brought out a small flat plate from the cupboard
and placed all he bought on the plate. He replaced
the plate and closed the cupboard gently.

Then he went to the door; straightened his
shirt, [threw out his chest, glanced in the mirror
and opened the door. But-a boy entered! This is
his classmate. He nodded him in with teeth smile.
"Welcome, take seat," he said, motioning him
to a seat near the parlour bed. He sat down with
"Thank you Patrick." Patrick sat also. "When
did you return? I mean from the hospital."
Patrick was uninterested. "On Tuesday," he
said sourly.
"Which Tuesday?"
"Tuesday-I don't know which."
"Okay, let's leave that," said his friend unper-
"How did you find the hospital?... comfort-
able, unsatisfactory or entertaining?"
"All good"
"All good!" said his friend, stressing the
"good." "All good... that's funny. I suggest
you will be going back there soon, Eh?"
Patrick did not answer. He was only body
present. He was all the- while thinking how to
make his friend leave the house. For a short while
they satin silence, each looking the other way.
Suddenly Patrick.stood up. His friend looked.
He glanced and smiled at his friend with false
affection. "It-is a pity-I've nothing for enter-
tainment. You see, I can't... "
"Oh, never mind. Don't bother yourself," his
friend interrupted. The trick worked. It worked
so well, for his friend certainly stood up to the
expectation of Patrick. And Patrick was giving
way for him to go out, when something happened.
Something happened indeed. Something hideous
and hateful.


Paul, Patrick's junior brother dashed im-
pudently intb the parlour. Patrick and friend
looked with wide eyes. Paul was making his way
to the cupboard at the extreme end. Patrick
quickly remembered that it was there he kept the
plate of provisions for his girl.
"Come back! Paul! wait!........." Before he
could reach him, Paul had already brought out the
plate and turned away the contents on the parlour
bed. He went his way in the same temper.
The plate belongs to Paul. He won it for his
good performance during a parents day in their
Patrick's friend sat down unknowingly.
Patrick was .still standing and gazing at the
provisions as if whispering to them to vanish!
vanish away! into the cupboard and hide!
"It's a pity I have no entertainment," he re-
peated in his mind. His friend sighed slowly
but said nothing.
SBefore long, his friend sat up quietly and said
"Patrick, I must be going.'"
"Why, here is the entertainment, all for you,"
said Patrick with false affability.
"Well, then, lets enjoy ourselves," his friend
said and sat down unkindly. Patrick swallowed the
wrong way and began to cough. He sat down and
coughed, coughed and coughed.
When he recovered from his fit of cough, he
saw his friend sucking the last of the oranges


Only two of the biscuits remained.
Patrick was annoyed. He took one biscuit
and chewed it as if he was biting cloth.
His friend finished the last orange and was
touching the toffee when Patrick interrupted
jestingly, "Boys, don't like toffee, do they ?"
"I like it," replied his friend ungainly.
Patrick turned away his head discomfortably. He
looked blankly on the wall. His heart condensed
in agony and anger. His friend sucked the toffee
calmly. He sucked two together. He couldn't
finish all. But he meant massacre. He began to
pocket the remaining toffee. Patrick saw him
pick them one by one. He looked him in disdain.
The boy never winked.
When he picked the last one, he stood up and
declared that he must be going. Patrick nodded
absently. His heart was too heavy to lift a word.
It became lighter when the boy was opening
the door. "Eh .. .excuse me, sir," he said in a dry
tone. The boy turned. He walked to him and
stood 'squarely in front of him.
"Yes-excuse .... "
"Say on," interposed his friend.
Patrick eyed him combatively, and started
afresh: "E Excuse-me, I say again," and he
waited for his trap to catch. But his friend,
understanding the risk, stood tongue-tied.
Then he continued: "Excuse me-and by the
way, is your name Joe ?"
His friend gazed at him ridiculously. "Don't
you know?-my name is Joseph. And Joe is
short for Joseph." Patrick felt ashamed. What of


Josephine? he wondered. His 'friend bade him
good-bye affectionately enough; but as soon as
Patrick slammed the door, Joseph fell into a fit of
laughter which sounded unkind and even miserable
in the ears of Patrick.
On the parlour bed he sat, with his back
supported by the wall and moped desperately.
Suddenly another tap sounded on the door. He
rose up and walked noiselessly to the door. He
stooped and spied through the hinges. Then he
straightened up with a broad grin.
A sigh escaped him in spite of himself. Now
it is Joe. The genuine Joe. Not the counterfeit
He walked back silently to his corner and sat
waiting for another tap. The tap was repeated.
"Come in," he said in an exaggerated tone. The
door opened slowly; and a lean delicate figure
swept into the room in an aroma of geniality.

PATRICK motioned his visitor to a seat and
went out with a polite excuse.
Closing the door behind him, he ran to a
nearby shop and got another packet of biscuit and
all that had been confiscated by his former visitor.
He returned and was about to open the door when
something pulled on his' sleeve. He turned and
saw the shop boy. He was stretching his hand to
receive the provisions.
"Give me!" My master say no credit! Give..."


"Shh! Tell your master..."
"0, no, no! he say come tomorrow for credit."
"O.K. tell him I shall come tomorrow for
payment." Patrick banged the door behind the
He set the provisions on the plate, and they
ate together with sharp appetite. They con-
versed while they ate. But Patrick was not quite
composed for he feared the shop-boy might repeat.
At intervals, he tried to enjoy looking at his
girl, but he did so only when the girl looked the
other way. And when her eyes met his, he
withdrew his own eyes as suddenly as if he had been
caught in a theft.
"Now, Joe let Congo and her Lumumba alone.
Let's talk something more amorous."
"All right Paddy, then the topic is 'Love."'
"Love, indeed. I love to talk of Love when
with you."
"What department of love shall we discuss?"
"Department in Love?"
"Yes, Love has got departments. Love is
varicoloured. You can hardly.. ..."
"Let that alone Joe, let's talk of Love'. the
department of "you and I." Joe started to smile.
"No, No, No! Stop that smile, Joe. Don't bewitch
me, Oh! What a sacred smile!"
Joe began to laugh. "Stop, stop! dear darling
Stop that conjuring laughter. Don't make me
sleep. God! ....... what a spell."
"Stop that tomfoolery, Paddy. You can't
gain your goal by playing the clown."
"0! Joe, be gentle and genial .... be plain and


polite. Have merc. on my poor heart. Don't shake
me like that. Remember you are a young nurse,
nurse your patient patiently. Don't make me...."
"You talk too much! Stop that ..... "
"Gentle Joe gather your beauty. Stop that
what? Please be civil, and courteous, and
nurse the needy. Oh !-Oh-we-wi-with-
withdraw .... "
"Withdraw what!"
"O! Joe be kind .... withdraw those eyes of
yours. Their light is too strong for me. Keep
them shot for a moment."
"Paddy you better say something sensible and
stop this gabbling."
"But. ...but promise .. promise me ... "
"What's all these recitation? Say something
boy. You bore me you know."
"Kind Joe, give me courage to speak my mind.
You know Love is difficult: full of frictions. It
is the ruler of man-kind; the master of ... ."
"No, no, no, I don't agree with you there-
Love is only a ruler in an actual weakness-I
don't agree with you, Paddy."
"O.K. -O.K. Joe, forget rule, but love.
Promise me those enchanting eyes of yours.
Promise, please."
"But you dread to see them.".
"No, Joe, No. I dread the light and not
the eyes."
"All right, I promise you my eyes. What a
laughable .... "
"Don't, don't my Joe. Don't say laughable
when you mean lovable. Do you promise for


"Why ever?"
"Why never? for It's either ever or never.
Understand me darling. Why a day without a
"Good! I accept the terms. I will make the
offer. I promise you my eyes for ever-and my
eyes only, mark you!"
"You mistake me, you mistake me. my dear.
Oh! cupid, god of lo\e ... restore me .... make
Joe understand .... make her understand before
I say. Why eyes \without ears? And why part them
without the body, soul and Love. Joe, promise
you are mine."
"Paddy, I am yours."
"For ever?"
"For ever."
"Will you keep your promise?" said Patrick
smiling winningly, and not troubling to bring his
lips quite together again at the end, for there was
going to be another smile soon.
"I will," said Josephine. And he smiled again.

The holidays end today, being Monday.
Patrick had sent for his girl to come and see him
off. His father having settled him went to work.
Patrick, having packed his things, waited only for
After a while, Patrick stood up and began to
walk about the parlour saying .to himself: "No


more buying things for strange strangers. I must
keep this shilling until I see Joe with my own eyes
-that. Promise must be signed and no fooling
about it! you understand? Thank you." He
stopped suddenly. "Ephraim! Ephraim!"-he was
calling his second junior brother. The boy came
and he gave these instructions to him: "Listen
Ephraim, stay by the door outside, while I am in
here. If any boy asks of me, tell him I am not
in. Say I have left for school. You understand?"
The boy nodded.
"Now you may laugh as you please-if a girl
asks of me, get her right inside here! Yes, please
yourself, but carry out my orders." The door
slammed and Ephraim stopped laughing.
Patrick was walking about the parlour when
Ephraim opened the door and admitted a girl intb
the room.
The girl is short, black and fat with pro-
tuberant eyes. Her nose is thick and big; her
nostrils, deep and round. She possesses some
rustic material of beauty; wants etiquette, with
antique style of hair cut.
She sat down confidently without waiting to be
told. Patrick was baffled. They sat in silence for
the mean time. The girl broke the silence. "How
are you get on? Have you well?" Patrick began
to scratchhis nose to hide a smile.
"But I don't know you," he complained.
"You don't know? Wonderfool!"
She spat on the floor and began to laugh
noisily. Patrick drew his legs and cursed noise-
lessly. "So you no no your relathief?" She


spat again and the jets from the splash fell on the
legs of Patrick. He pulled them further in. The
girl continued laughing. Patrick found no fun in
"Now Guess, Guess who I.: .... "
"I can't guess!" he growled. The girl spat and
spluttered. Patrick became nervous and scared.
He pulled his seat farther away.
"Guess. Try to ....."
"I guess you are a deliberate intruder!"
"No, no, no, you are mistake. I am not a daily
break trader, but a sowing machine girl."
Patrick could'nt suppress a laughter. His
face grew distorted. It screwed up into laughter.
He laughed, laughed loosely, he couldn't remember
when he laughed last.
"Do you now know.......! I am your
cousin!" she said, apostrophizing the last word.
She spat and sneezed. Snot oozed out from her
nostrils. She collected it with her fingers and
flung it accidentally on Patrick's foot.
"Pooh!" growled Patrick, and she sorried. She
collected it again, this time with the edge of her
palm and then rubbed it round her leg. While she
still laughed. Patrick sat up briskly and staggered
deafly to the door.

The girl roared the more and he opened the
door and nipped off nervously.

"She must be mad! .....Curse that cousin!"
he said to himself.


When Patrick opened the door, he found that
the crazy cousin has been replaced by his sane Joe.
They exchanged smiles, and Patrick called for
Paul. He gave Paul the shilling he had been
reserving until he saw Joe with his own eyes.
He asked Paul to buy him a packet of biscuit and
four-pence worth of iced oranges.
"Why, Joe, you don't keep to time-I have
been longing for you, you know."
"So I heard."
"You heard? ... Who told ....."
"Ephraim said so."
Patrick wiped his seat weakishly and sat down.
For the moment, they sat in silence. Patrick was
contemplating a crack on the floor. Joe was busily
surveying the room.
Suddenly she pointed at the table. Patrick
looked. "Is that today issue?" she asked.
"Yes-today's Times," he responded service-
ably and brought the Daily Times to her.
She was already skimming through the news-
paper when she became aware of a wailing sound.
She lowered the paper and. listened., Patrick
straightened his neck and listened too. The sound
increased gradually. It was flowing towards the
door. And when the parlour door opened, Paul
entered with his eyes blurred with tears.
"What's wrong Paul?" asked Patrick timidly.
"The-The Shop-man s-seized the shilling,"
wailed Paul.


"Shilling seized!" exclaimed Patrick shame-
facedly. He glanced at Joe. and withdrew his face
quickly as if he made a mistake Paul continued:
"He said you are owing ......... "
"I never asked you that!"
Patrick nipped in. "Go to the kitchen-
away!" Paul went out. He glanced again at Joe,
but he no longer saw her face. Her head was hidden
behind the newspaper she held.
"Joe," he called. "Joe." Joe ne\er answered
He stared closely and discovered that the papers
were trembling. He suspected she was laughing
and shrugged his shoulders wearily:
After a while he called wildly, "Josephine!"
The papers dropped, unveiling the face. She
managed to look at him cautiously. "I can see
you have a great power of concentration," grinned
"Oh! yes-something like that-but not always."
"So you never heard the previous calls ?"
"I heard only one."
"O.K.-O.K.-let me pretend to believe so;"
he stood up and looked around sluggishly and said,
"Wait a minute Joe, I see what's cooking outside."
But Joe insisted she will be going.
"But I am going to the shop-won't you take
some biscuits? oranges ?-and perhaps some-"
"Nevermind, never mind, don't bother yourself;
don't bother yourself. I must be going-or I will
be regretting my visit."
Joe was already outside and Paddy never heard
when she said, "Good bye," nor did he notice-


when the door closed. He turned back and walked
disgustedly to the parlour bed. On the bed, he sat
with back inclined to the wall. He moped list-
lessly at the door.
Why was he just sitting so? Where is Joe?
Gone ? Gone ? And what of the promise ? Not
signed! he thought. But what has happened?
What? O-ho, the seized shilling-and the big
disgrace-the big disgrace!-the big disgrace must
be avenged! I can't have it! "I-I-I can't have
it!" he cried out. "I can't have it-I can't, I can't!"
He began to bring out his school equipment
repeating the words "I can't have it" over and over.
When he had brought out his bucket, he left for the
shop. Standing by the road, opposite the shop,
he called for the Shop-keeper to get him a packet
of biscuit. The shop-keeper asked him to come to
the shop, and he shouted back, "I can't come there!
-a taxi is waiting on me!"
"Got the money there ?" asked the shop-keeper
and Patrick waved a pound note. The man ran up
quickly and handed him a packet of biscuit which
Patrick swiftly tossed into the air. The man
strided and jerked up his hands and head, struggling
to prevent the biscuit from falling into the gutter.
But before the packet lost its kinetic energy, a
shooting blow from Patrick; jammed the jaw of the
shop-keeper, which sent him staggering on the
contrary direction. The biscuit finally landed on
his head and then into the gutter. Before the
man regained his stand, Patrick was viewing the
station from a running taxi. The taxi cornered a
culvert and slowed down into the motor station.


"I can't have it," sighed Patrick triumphantly.
He paid off the chauffer and climbed out.
He was walking away and beginning to say
"I can't have...." when a hefty hand hooked his
neck. He opened his mouth very wide to let out
a strangled "ah!" People began to rush together
hooting at them. Some were shouting, "run! run!"
But Patrick pleaded helplessly. "Let me
go! Let me go, please! I have got to pay for the
biscuit you know. Let me...."
"My brain! Give me my Brain!" ordered the
unseen man.
"You mean biscuit," corrected Patrick.
"My brain! My brain! Quick!"
"Okay, I'm wrong then. Wonderful your
voice is strangely changed by anger. Ease that
claw clamp. Ease it. Ease it a bit, uh! Stop
scragging it. My neck uh! uh! Don't twist.
Don't How could you.... How could you be
so killing for only a packet of biscuit.
"My brain! yelled the unseen man.
"O! I am sorry. A packet of brain then.
But-but loosen, loosen.a bit. Let me have some
air through my throat-a wind of air through my
wind pipe; light or little; fresh or foul; let it be
air. Let me.... Christo!"
"My brain!"
"Or else?" queried Patrick; still under the
cruel custody of the horrible herculean hand.
The unseen man never replied. Something
else answered the query. A heavy club came


down with a big "boom!" on poor Patrick's skull.
He hooped and %\inced, springing and striving
After a short savage struggle, he gained his
freedom. He then swung round pugnaciously
only to find not the Shop-keeper"but a mangy mad
man! A public lunatic! Market mad man!
Patrick doubled back impulsively and ran for
his life.


ONCE more, Patrick is in school and once
more, neglected his studies. He was judged by his
conduct and past performances, and finally was
re-admitted after serious consideration.
Patrick now in Class V, pays little attention to
his studies, seldom attends classes.
As a dormitory prefect and the Deputy
Senior prefect, he took all the school regulations
into his hands. He was in the habit of walking
late in the morning; sleeping in the dormitory
during school period; chatting, eating and dancing
in the dormitory; reading after lights out...... ;
all against the school regulations.
He was in the lavatory one day when he
overheard this conversation:
"So you think he is reading all that thing with
his head? Na so. You don't know what is
happening in this world today. I'm here to tell
you the secrets of life! Here...... look on my


hand. I have them all written on my palm. Am
to tell you where to stand and where to sit. If you
expect to reach your goal by just the natural way.
then, my dear man .....and excuse me to say....
you are no \where--you are no where-- ou can't
climb a step up the long ladder of life '"

''Forgive me Jacobs,' started another voice,
"one thing still puzzles me; and forgive me when
I say it. I see you have a great belief in Black Art,
and perhaps, you practise it also.

"But I wonder why you haven't displaced
Francis in any Exam. Not even in a weekly test.
And on the other hand, the idea that you are in a
"B" class weighs me to the earth." There was
silence for a while. Patrick covered his mouth
tightly to suppress a cough. A third voice broke
the silence:

"You think we enjoy all that public praises he
is being given by the Principal? We need some
one to give him the sack! Some one like you.

"No, no, all that forgives don't answer the
question," interposed the former voice, "and to
start with, I don't know how my being in a "B"
class came into our conversation. It has no part to
play there, and the idea may weigh any one into-
into the grave I don't care!" There was a buzz
of apologies. Patrick held his breath to check a
The former voice continued. "The trouble
is that many people understand things in many


ways. Some people are so stupidly sceptical that
they can never believe a single truth until they see
with their own eyes."
"Seeing is believing," quoted a voice, and the
former voice retorted.
"Don't say that, man! If you always wait to
see before you believe, you will be doomed before
you see enough. After all, he is a fool who ridicules
what he doesn't know." A silence ensued. Then
another voice said: "Eh, I think I see some light in
what Jacobs is teaching. And I will like him to
tell us where we can find one of these occult
masters......a competent one of course." Patrick
was now listening with every atom of intensity.
"Em, well....competent if that be the vord can get one .... let me see. ... yes, yes,
you can find one along a deserted winding path
leading to a big lake in Onitsha. His house is
situated opposite a burial ground. The man is
black and huge, with untrimmed beard and hair.
If you try that man and don't succeed then my
name is Bar-Jesus." Patrick clapped his hands in
the air noiselessly.
"One word more," continued the former
voice, "a word more, a word for the wise; if ye
be blind as Samson when you cast down the
pillars, the ruins will fall on you." The group
moved on, and Patrick followed with cautious
"H'm, a man living opposite the burial ground
....he must be the devil himself," muttered


On Saturday, being free-day, Patrick travelled
out to Onitsha. It took him no trouble to trace
the house of the occult master.
He tapped lightly on the door No one
answered. He tapped again. The third time he
tapped, the door flung open. As he saw no man
within the door or behind it, he believed that the
door opened on its own accord, and recorded it
as mystery No. 'I.
As he stepped into the room a bell began to
toll with a peremptory clang. A big black man in
dark suit was sitting in a huge arm-chair.
Patrick sat down and stood up automatically
again as it occurred to him that he has not been
asked to sit down.
"'Sit down, my boy," said the Occultmaster
and Patrick sat with a salute. While the bell still
tolled, the master said, 'Your name is Patrick,
"Y-Y-Yes, Sir," stuttered Patrick.
"You are a student, correct?"
"Quite correct, Sir."
"You have come to be helped through your
"Wonderful! you are right my master."
"Your age is eighteen."
"Hundred percent! Hundred percent my Lord,
hundred percent." Patrick was awe-struck. He
grinned and swayed on his seat with rever-
ence. The master showed no surprise.
"How did you know all this ?" grinned Patrick.
"It's my job," replied the master indifferently.


In a few\ moment, something was happening again.
By some dexterous manipulation beyond human
understanding, the master produced a lit stick of
The master smoked his cigar with absent
interest as if it's a thing any fool can do.
"Repeat sir," Patrick said, wiping his eyes to
see more clearly.
"It's no trifle." replied the calm master,
Patrick drew in his lips. "How do you want your
charm?" asked the master. "I have got it in ink
and blotting paper. Many students like it in
Blotting Paper," he added.
"How does it work?"
"Until you pay for it."
"What's the price? "
"Seven guineas."
Patrick wistled in a long low tune and remained
silent. After a short while the master asked, "Can't
afford it? ...... Okay, you better pay for grade
"Which grade?"
"Don't you know it's done according to the
grade you want to secure in your West African
Examination ?"
"What is the price then ?"
"Three guineas. Five guineas for grade two."
"How-don't you deduct any-"
"We don't use that language here. Every-
thing is done spiritually. Fees are charged in accor-
dance with the demand of the Spirit." For long
Patrick sat biting his lips thoughtfully.


After a long time, he stood up. "I will go
and see what I can do," he said.
"Okay, I anm here," replied the master.
As the door closed behind him the bell
stopped ringing
Patrick walked home slowly and thoughtfully.
"I must pay for grade one," he muttered. "I must.
I must, by all means."

ON Monday morning Patrick sent this Tele-
gram to his father :-
On Wednesday the same week, Patrick was
summoned to the Principal's office. He took his
seat in juxtaposition with the Principal.
"I've just got a letter from your father,"
began the Principal, "with the sum of seven
pounds seven shillings. "What is the money for?"
"It it's for my glasses, Sir," lied Patrick
blinking, the principal opened the letter. "But
your father never mentioned glasses here. Seems
to be in haste." Listen: "I enclose the sum of
seven pounds seven shillings for Patrick. Explain
condition in details" "What condition?" Patrick
swallowed, "Condition of my eyes."
"Am I to tell?"
"May be he is referring to the doctor."


"Which doctor?"
"The doctor for my glasses. He is a friend
to my father."
"O-ho, I see, I see. But he should not have
written it here. What's wrong with your eyes ?"
"I scarcely read with my eyes," began Patrick
more lively. "Tears flood my eyes when I read.
Feel pains and a sensation of heat in the brain....
all due to the eyes. Can't see clearly in........"
"All right, all right, Patrick. That will do,
have the money; but let me know when you get the
spectacles, you get me?"
"Yes Sir." Patrick took the money and
walked out uncertainly from the office.
The next day, he took permission from the
vice-Principal and travelled to Onitsha instead of
the hospital.
He met the master in his room as usual and
the bell started to toll again.
"Got the money?" asked the master.
"Yes master."
"What grade."
"Grade one. I don't want inferior titles.
The name 'Patrick' is not inferior, sir."
"I see with you my it's seven
pounds seven, eh?"
"Yes my Lord." The master smiled his first
smile ever since Patrick visited him. H'm, man
that smiles only on money, thought Patrick.
The Master stretched his hand to receive the
money and Patrick gave him with trembling


"Don't be afraid boy. I don't love money as
you think." Patrick was taken by surprise. He
shrank back in awe.
"So you know what people think ?"
"I can always tell you what you are and when
you change. My business is no child's game."
Patrick shuddered and struggled to make his
thought obey his countenance.
"You want it now ?"
"Yes, master."
The master entered the inner room and came
out with a black blotting paper of foolscap
size. Patrick watched with eager eyes. The mas-
ter sat down with the blotting paper in his hand.
"This is the charm." He held it to the eyes
of Patrick.
The middle part of the blotting paper bore an
Arabic inscription. Above it was a picture of a
skeleton skull.
"Can you see this?" He showed Patrick the
inscription on the blotting. Patrick looked criti-
cally and nodded. "It's the magic word,"
explained the master, "You have got to pronounce
it when using this charm. You take me?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"Now, what subject do you choose for your
exam ?"
"Eight subjects."
"Not number but names."
"They are English-"
"A minute." The master hurried into his room
and brought a clay plate of dark liquid. He left


the blotting paper soaked in the clay plate.
Patrick \\as asked to dip his right hand into the
liquid. He did so.
"Close your eyes and begin to call your
subjects one by one.
Patrick did so and started counting. "One!
Two! Th...."
"Stop counting, you fool! Call your subjects.
Start again."
"English number one! Latin........"
"What a mess! Forget numbers. Forget
numbers." He apologised and started again:
"English! Latin! Literature! History! Geo-
graphy! Mathematics! Scripture! General
"Finished ?"
"Yes, Master."
"Sure ?"
"Open your eyes."
Patrick opened his eyes and blinked.
"Bring out the blotting paper yourself."
When the blotting paper was brought out, it was
no longer wet, to the ever increasing surprise of
Patrick. The master took the blotting paper from
him and muttered some spiritual incantations.
'He gave it back to Patrick with these words:
"Keep the blotting clean." When you enter
for a paper in an exam, you can keep on writing
all the nonsense you have in your brain. But


when it's five minutes to stop, place it on top your
question paper and pronounce the magic word
"SUNJI", then wait one minute. Repeat the
same operation on your answer paper. Wait one
minute as usual. Then take out the blotting
paper and all the fun shall be yours."
All the while Patrick sat grinning from ear to
"But one thing must be noted," continued
the master. "One thing very important. Any
compulsory subject in your exam?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"What is it?"
"Is it the first subject to be taken?"
"Yes, Master."
"O.K., I suggest you do that yourself, would
you mind?"
"No, my Lord. Even English is my best
subject. I don't mind. I'll like to do it myself."
"Then it's bye."
"Good bye, good master."
Patrick walked away with great joy and made
his way back to the school.
The examination now remained only three
weeks. Patrick played away his time.... While
the students dried and starved for study, he
swelled and craved for joy.
His text books were acid to him; his novels
were his nourishment.


THE morning of the third week brought
Patrick into the examination hall.
He sat down on his seat as confident as justice.
Ever smiling. The students sat in cold calm.
Some were turning the pages of their books at
irregular intervals; others were checking their
writing materials carefully; the rest folded their
arms and gaped somewhere else.
The warning bell rang twice and the students
began to get rid of risky matters. Some students
still crouched behind the doors and windows,
turning pages searchingly to see what they can,
capture before the final bell goes.
Finally, the last bell went. Patrick turned his
question paper and ran through the contents with
eager eyes. The paper that morning was "English",
and paper 1 was Essay writing.
.After reading over the topics and considering
them again and again, he tipped off a number.
His chosen topic was "THE SCHOOL SUBJECT
Patrick biting his fingers, thought, imagined,
weighed, opposed, constructed, compared and
contrasted ideas in his mind.
He was the last to start. His Essay was
humorous and to the point. He wrote:

This very subject made me mad in this very
The very mention of the word Arithmetic
makes me sick and nervous. I find fault with'
Tutors who always write "A" for the first letter of


their subject because I always fear that the "A"
will spell-Arithmetic!
I hate Algebra but I like its wit; I hate Geo-
metry but I love its puzzle. Latin is generally
assumed to be the hardest subject in a secondary
School but I love it for its refined pronunciation
and its being the key to many subjects.
To other subjects, I have moderate interest.
But- but for A -Ari rit to hell with it!
......can't even call it. It aches my brain.
Only the Tutor can teach why some students hate
that subject (Arithmetic) and I cannot tarry to
that teaching.
If sued to court for hating Arithmetic, I shall
accuse the recurring decimals; the hard-to-simplify
fractions and the killing Kilograms and Kiro-
Kililo-Kilometers! Damn them!
I can remember one day being called by a girl
whom I held in heart secretly by the way of love,
and for that thought that a "golden opportunity."
As I reached, she gave me a cool conventional
"good evening."
But-but-I was beaten flat when she opened
a Durell!
I was feigning a solution to the problem she
gave me when she asked.
"What is a Kilogram?"
"Kilogrant?" I asked, and she turned away
her face to hide a smile. But I couldn't stand it.
I couldn't, Mr Examiner.
Before she turned her face again, I was on my
bed cursing Arithmetic.


Patrick finished his last sentence with the
ringing of the warning bell. He was not able to
read through his essay before the last bell went
but he was sure of his work.
He entered his last paper with confidence.
He wrote ...... what's the Gun? .... Oh, my
good readers, pardon me, pardon. But you must
allow me please myself. Those gun shots mark
the second year since I started writing my novel.
I started it very late in November, nineteen hundred
and sixty and flow it's twelve mid-night very early
in January, nineteen hundred and sixty-one. I'm
glad to be alive to see the New Year pregnant with
"NO MAN KNOWS." Let us pray:
"0 God, the physician of men and nations,
the restorer of years that have been destroyed;
look upon the distractions of the world, and
be pleased to complete the work of Thy healing
hand; draw all men unto Thee and one to
another by the hands of Thy Love; make Thy
Church one, and fill it with Thy Spirit that by
Thy power it may unite the world in a sacred
brotherhood of Nation, wherein justice,
mercy and faith, truth and freedom may
flourish and Thou mayest be ever glorified
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."
Still I perceive the Seraphic song of the choir
singing over the radio. I beg to join them:
"At the sign of triumph
Satan's legions flee;
On then, Christian Soldiers,
On to victory
Hell's foundations quiver


At the shout of Praise;
Brother lift your voices,
Loud your anthems raise;

Chorus: Onward, Christian Soldiers
Marching as to war
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.
Like a mighty army
Moves the Church of God;
Brothers we are treading
Where the saints have trod;
We are not divided,
All one body we,
One in hope and doctrine,
One in charity;

Crowns and thrones may perish,
Kingdoms rise and wane,
But the Church of Jesus
Constant will remain;
Gates of hell can never
'Gainst that Church prevail;
We have Christ's own promise,
And that cannot fail:

Onward, then ye people,
Join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices
In the triumph song;
Glory, laud, and honour
Unto Christ the King;
This through countless ages
Men and angels sing."




On the next morning Patrick entered the hall
with his magic blotting paper, as sure as sunrise:
The paper that morning was Geography.
Patrick was patient enough to read through his
question paper. The BIG IDEA marvelled him.
The day promised a BIG SHOW, indeed a BIG
While others were writing, patrick was scrib-
ling all kinds of phrases and mottoes he could
remember. At intervals looked at the clock with
impatient eyes.
When his paper was covered with scribbles he
sat waiting for five minutes to stop. He waited.
A strange resigned waiting. Suddenly there
seemed as if everything was waiting ..... as if the
clock was waiting, as if even the day was waiting.
"One hour gone," announced the invigilator.
Patrick began to wonder how it shall all happen.
A mere placing of the blotting-paper on a foolscap
to convey the result of.. five years labour !
.... five years intellectual strain! five years
mental travail! In one minute One minute alone!
He shuddered.
Supposing it disappoints, he thought. Then
it will mean something, something absurd. Very
absurd indeed. I'm done. Done for ever. I'm
gone. Gone for ever. What, if I....... He
felt his nerves jump as the warning bell rang.


"Read over your work," ad\ ised the invigilator.
"Tidy up your papers. Read over again and make
sure you are sending something reasonable."

It is now one minute since Patrick placed the
magic blotting paper on his question paper. He
removed it and then placed it on his foolscap;
pronounced "Sunji" and waited. One minute
gone. He removed the "blotting" to see only the
scribbles. A sensation of s\xeat charged his body.
He repeated the operation once more and once
more he saw the scribbles. Four minutes gone
and one minute more for the final bell.
He did the third operation in 57 seconds very
short of the normal time. That means he did it in
three seconds. Once again the scribbles.
He sat petrified for the moment. Dark dots
danced over the walls in front of his eyes. For a
second he thought he had only been dreaming and
had just woke up. With a start, he stood up. He
had not been dreaming. The students were passing
their papers and going away. The hall was nearly
empty. The scribbles must be responsible for the
failure, he thought. They won't allow the charm
to act.
"Paper!" he called, and the last bell rang.
The students looked at him in devious derision.
"Paper!" he cried again. "Paper, or bear the
consequence! Paper, Pig head!"

A student handed him a paper. He took it
with trembling fingers. He sat down automatically
as if hit by a giant hammer.


He placed the magic blotting on his question
paper, and then on the new paper without minding
the minute rule.

This time, the paper bore no scribbles; no

It looked blank. Patrick breathed with
difficulty. Suddenly the invigilator was charging
at him with anger, "Get your paper, you rogue!
G et .........."

Something was happening. Something strange.
Something serious. The invigilator shrinked back.

Patrick was hammering his fist on the magic
blotting and shouting, "SUNJI! SUNJI! SUN-"

The Principal was now on the scene. "Hold
him!" he ordered. "Mad dog! He's started again!
Last year was worst! Tie him!"

Patrick was tied hands and legs. "But I am
not mad," he explained with a sobber voice. The
students laughed. "Let me tell-"

"Tell nothing!" retorted the Principal. "Take
him to the food-store! Lock him there!"

The Principal saw the cook lock the door and
went away. Patrick lay in the store huddled in the
food-stuffs. He remained in silent misery.

When the Principal's car moved away, the
cook unlocked the door. He held the door ajar and
eyed Patrick brutally. "You goat," he cursed


"You keep on wasting your father's money.
E\er) day brain fag, every day bratn-."
Patrick spat. The cook sprang back but still the
saliva fell on his knicker. He kicked angrily and
charged back at Patrick; gave him a good kick on
the head with his boot, and banged the door. He
locked it and went to the kitchen panting. Patrick
moaned in despair.
The evening came, and he began to feel some
pangs of hunger. He nosed around cautiously.
Suddenly his eyes were arrested by some yellow-ripe
bananas heaped by his side. He eyed them
voraciously. I must eat them, he thought. I am
hungry. Very hungry. I must eat ..... or die.
He reached his tied hands and grabbed one.
He tugged and tugged at it in vain. He tried to
twist but it helped a little. He stopped, and
collected his breath. Then he pulled and pulled
till the stalk came out with a forcible cut. He
sighed, and began to bite off the back of the
He stuffed the plantain into his mouth and
devoured it quickly, and then another, quickly, all
of them, before any one could prevent him. He
eyed the plantains again and then repeated his
former operation.
The Principal has just arrived. Patrick never
heard the buzz of the car; never heard the cook
unlocking the door. He was devouring the second
plantain when the door opened. Patrick looked
up ashamed. The Principal stared in amazement.
Patrick couldn't stand that stare. At last he looked
away and let his head sink in tears unto his elbows.


"Are you hungry, Patrick ?" asked the Principal
and patrick nodded without looking up. The
Principal eyed the cook accusingly and then with-
drew. The cook glanced at the Principal in fear
and then stayed still as a statue.
"Was that your complaint?" continued the
Principal and Patrick nodded again. The Princi-
pal shook his head with pity. "Untie him," he
nodded to the cook.
Patrick was now standing and beating out the
dust on his knicker and shirt, his eyes blurred with
"Are those tears all for the hunger ?" asked the
Principal. "Wipe them Patrick, and be a man my
boy. Wipe .... Patrick was saying something.
"Beg you pardon ?" asked the Principal.
"The cook kicked my head."
"The cook?" The Principal turned to the
cook, "Is that so?"
The cook blinked and stammered, "E-it-it's
-it's not-"
"It is so!" gnarled the Principal with a double
slap on each cheek of the cook, followed a kick at
the buttock. The cook trundled off crazily to the
kitchen. Patrick moved away with the Principal.
The next day he continued his examination in
the normal way. No more magic blotting. No
'more minute count. No more nonsense. No
more fooling either.


TION. The DARK DAY brings the BIG
day looks dark on us; \ hen the burden of thoughts
weigh us down; the road seems dreary and endless,
the skies sad and threatening .the dark day;
when our dreams are dark: our hopes are down.
when our lives have no music in them, and our
hearts suffocate in solitude and our souls \\ant
courage, our disposition no definition; THE
DARK DAY; when we suffer and fail; our sense
of duty grow faint through self-indulgence; W-
when-when we question the value of life.
Patrick was spending his holidays in his village.
He never wants to stay in the township this time.
The reason is confidential. Very confidential.
He lives in his father's house, where he has a
room to himself. On his bed he sat, with a pen
in his hand, a blue writing pad on a small table
in front of him:

"Darling dearest (Joe),
"This is the last you will hear from me. The
very last time. The last you shall see me breathe.
The very last time. The last I shall say Joe. The
last I shall say love. The last I shall say life.
The last I shall say pills. The last I shall say charm.
The last and the very end.
"It's two weeks now since we finished our.
examination, our final year. Every honest student
is now in his home waiting, confidently for his


result, but deep in the grave, I'll lie in wait of mine,
and please post my result to my grave. Don't fail!
"I wish them luck. I wish them success. I
wish them all pass. I wish .you God's Glory.
God's guidance.
-The world is a war, a blind war, an endless war,
that knows not the young, not the old, not the rich
or poor; in \which men and women fight daringly,
not till they defeat, but till they are defeated.
"'It is this defeat, the BIG DEFEAT, that
compels me to write now in the deep darkness of
night. As I am writing now, a red poisonous
tablet is in my mouth. Do not be shocked for
such is life. I shall not swallow it till I have finished
"Here in my home where I was born, is where
I stay to die today. Blame not the bearer of my
missive; curse him not, for he is not the cause of
my death.
"Suicide is sweet but pitiable; death is doom
but nothing. It is not suicide that is sad but the
death. No one likes to harm himself. If I don't.
like suicide, I would not do it. Every one acts
according to his own mental colour. Suicide is
murder when one is forced to do so. When one
does it on one's own initiative, one commits a
divine crime punishable by a divine death. When
one attempts and fails, one commits only a common
crime punishable by only a common sentence.
"Mistake me not for perfect, for man is not
perfect. Man isn't indispensable. Though his
wisdom may wave, his wit may wag; his honour
on; his fame forward, his tongue thunder but when
the cold hand of defeat ...THE BIG DEFEAT...


when it shall touch him, he remains as stiff as
stone. Although I am defeated in the Battle-field
of life, cancel our promise but not our love.
"-From the dead.

The crowd was calm; the compound cool;
every corner collect. all quiet on the hospital
The trees stood still; the shrubs steady; no leaf
moved; no fruit fell; the light lazy; the morning
mourning ... all quiet on the hospital front.
Sorrow sighed for student; sorrow slept for
student; sorrow spelt student; .... SORROW
It is three days now since Patrick slept.
Relatives rushed; friends forced; Joe joined; ....
all to the hospital bed.
Patrick never stirred; never looked; never
talked or thought; only slept..... the strange
sleep. On the hospital bed, Patrick lay strange
and askew. With pity, the Doctor pronounced
"poison." "Student takes poison" was the subject
of rumour. The Doctor had given instruction
that he should not be given any food or drink.
Says everything he takes will mean poison.
Very late in the evening visiting legs shuffled
to and fro Patrick's corner. The mother attended
him tenderly. Joe sat near the pillow with
Patrick's head on her lovely laps.


Suddenly Patrick was stirring. Joe let his
head lie on the pillow gently. The electric light
glittered above,; visitors gaped; guardians gazed.
He moved again and his eyelids lifted up wearily, as
if tired of seeing an unworthy worldd Joe's teeth
showed in smile, and others obeyed.
Patrick began to blink, "0, my eyes. What
I see. Who? -Who are you? Who-?"
"Your mother. I am your mother."
"Mother? Which mother? Dead?"
"I am your true mother. You and I are alive.
You will not die my son."
"Keep calm, Patrick," said his father. "Keep
cool don't harass your mind."
"Who who you?"
"Don't mind who, I am a stranger, but ...."
"Stranger? strange stranger! Stranger again!-
stranger again! Go away! Don't eat my biscuit.
My toffee. Don't, Don't-"
"Paddy," called Josephine.
"What-What's your name?"
"J J Joseph?"
"No, Josephine."
"A-another Joe?"
"The same Joe. Your Joe. I am-"
"No, no, no, not -not my own Joe, not my
own, not ..... go! Go! go away. Don't fool my
eyes. I am dead but can see. Go, get away!" Joe
looked down and her tears fell silently.
"Why those tears, pour them on my heart, for
nothing can weep but Love. No one can sob but


Joe. The true Joe. Don't let them drop. Even
a drop. My eyes are dim, but I can see the honest
eyes. My ears are deaf but can hear her voice. ...
the voice of Joe. My tongue hard but can talk
of love ... talk of you .. the true-"
"Rest a bit Paddy," advised his mother. "Take
it easy. Don't talk too-" Patrick looked at her.
"You. say you are mother?"
"My mother?"
"Your true mother."
"Where food?"
"No-food. The Doctor-"
"Don't Doctor. You are no mother."
"Father. Is father here?"
"I'm here, Patrick."
"Where bread?"
"Doctor won't allow-"
"Doctor. Doctor won't allow. ..... Is
that a phrase or a sentence? No father. No father
in you. Where is my Joe?" Joe rushed. "You
are my Joe?"
"Your true Joe."
"Where your scarf? I'm suffocating. Wipe
my sweat." Joe drew out a long white silk scarf
and began to wipe his face with midwifery care.
'O, your hands. How cool they are, stop-
stop wiping. Leave only your hands: Yes-yes
-place your cheeks." Joe did so.
"And-and-and then-," Patrick cleared
his throat, "then the breast." Joe obeyed.
Patrick sighed a deep relax, and visitors and
guardians laughed.



Three months passed.
Patrick was still in the hospital, not sick, but
remained by the doctor's order. The doctor says
he would not go until he might have received
adequate nourishment.
Patrick was now tired of the whole affairs,
tired of the red blanket, tired of the white gown,
tired of the fetid chemical odour, tired of seeing
patients crawl in and out. Bored by big visit;
bored by morbid imagination. He wants to go
home. He needs music, love, Joe.
On one fine morning he was with his mother
drinking pap.
The doctor had just been there to see him.
"Mum," he asked, "when shall we be going?
I am very fit now, I can't wait all that any more ....
they bore me to death."
"Perhaps, it will be next week. Your dad
has "
"Next week is next year, why not next day?
Even today? Eh? I am tired, I am tired I can't
stay any longer."
"Drink your pap paddy, I shall see the doctor
myself. Don't be worried." Patrick drank his
pap thoughtfully. "What of Joe?" he asked,
dropping his spoon.
"She is still in the nursing school."


"When shall she return," asked Patrick leaning
"Eh.....let me think .... what's the date?
.... today's seventeenth, Saturday. She finished
her course yesterday. Says she will be returning
today. She will be here toda\." Patrick swal-
lowed and grinned. His mother looked down to hide
a smile.
"Has she been here at all?"
"Why, yes, she was in school when you were
brought to the hospital by your grannie. She
heard the news and came down, only to see you."
Patrick smirked.
"You are sure she will be here today?"
"Very sure," reassured the mother. "She wrote
us, she also said she has passed the final examina-
tion for the nursing course."
"Very good .... very good, excellent." Patrick
was gloomy. "Clever charp," he thought, "clever
chap. She has passed and I'm to fail. Clever chap, to
couple with clever dunce; Big dunce .. ... Double
dunce. Big dunce; foolish dunce; taking punish-
ing pills. Poisonous Pills; childish charms; Foolish
charms." There was a long strange silence.
"What's wrong, Paddy ?" asked his mother.
Patrick never answered. He merely gaped vacantly.
At length he sighed: "O God, it would have been
better if I died." The mother became nervy and
"Paddy," she pleaded. "Paddy, tell me, tell me
what's the matter. Tell me, tell me please. Don't
---Don't say so. Don't stay so. You are
killing me. You are ....." The mother began


to sob. Patrick looked down on her with pity.
"Don't mum. don't," he wailed, "Don't cry.
Don't do so, I'll live. I must live. Don't. You
are tilling my heart, mum. Don't" Suddenly
some-one was approaching them. They looked up
it %was the father standing with a newspaper in his
hand. Patrick eyed the newspaper nervously. It
was the "Sunday Times."
at the head lines of the newspaper.
He held his mother firmly as if afraid of what
he saw. "What's the matter?" asked the father.
No one answered. "Okay, you won't talk eh?"
continued the father. "Then I must. I have
news for you Patrick." Patrick began to breathe
furiously, "Go away!" he shouted. "You come to
talk of failure while you never passed your ancient
Standard Six! Go away! Get out' of here! Get -"
"Okey, Okey, Patrick I'll go, I'll go, but
look .... ."
He was showing him something, a name in
the Sunday Times, Patrick gazed. He was now
moving his stretched hands gradually towards the
newspaper as if he was going to catch a.cock.
Automatically he caught the paper and snatched it
off from his father's hands, bringing it closer to his
eyes. -
With wide eyes and trembling lips, he read out
the words "Patrick C. Onyekwe (Grade II)." He
wiped his eyes and read again. His mother was
now looking in admiration and waiting for a
signal to explode her enthusiasm.


Patrick's father suppressed his satisfaction, he
had expected the surprise. The very big surprise.
At last the signal came fromPatrick. He read the
words again and dropped the paper unconsciously
with a wild wide eyed grin. "Grade two!" exclaim-
ed Patrick stretching out his hand as if to catch
what he spoke. "Grade two; not mere pass: not
ordinary pass; Grade two. Superior grade for
superior Patrick!" He leaned back smirking with
superfluous joy.

His mother sat; a mighty woman with a
mighty mirth.

Patients around watched the drama neigh-
bourly. His father enjoyed the situation with
reproachful triumph.

The door opened and Patrick's sister entered
with Charles, the most junior brother, their eyes
glistened with news. Before his sister could say
"Pass" someone from behind had already completed
the sentence. They all looked back to see Ephraim
bounding gaily towards them. The small Charles
babbled his own sentence: "Pa-Patic pass," and
the group laughed.

The door opened again, and Patrick's face as
soon as he recognized Joe, shaped its self into
affectionate lines while yet beyond speaking dis-
tance. "At last it's Joe!" he exclaimed pointing
with his fingers. Others looked behind and gave way
for her to pass.

"It's Joe all right with news for you."

F'itat^e -r M.if.'nS br
lb CommrercI Avenue
Yabj. 1(uI 261:4,O00