AFAMEFUNNA – Urom Uchenna

“Good morning” It was the only thing he said. He knew why. He could tell. The look in her eyes was certainly there for only one reason. He pulled the blanket up. It had formed a heap at his foot and he wanted to pull it up past his waist. There was still no response from her; she just stood there, hands on her hip with that look. Afamuefuna did not understand. She would normally have replied the greeting with a harsh tone but this morning there was none, just silence. He thought “Mamie” as they all called her was there because he slept in and had the look because he bed wetted again. Afamuefuna or Afam as he was often called was eleven and was in primary five. For some reason he could not decipher he was the only one of his peers he knew who bed wetted.
“Afamuefuna.” The voice calling was baritone, clear and mild still it sent shivers through Afam. Mamie only used the full form of his name only when he was in some trouble or was being lured into one. Mamie looked at him with discontent and said in a resigned voice, “You better thank your God that you are not all soaked in your urine this morning. There’s a man in the parlour, he wants to see you. He said he’s from the local education authority”
Afam felt a tad more confident. He had slept in but he had not bed wetted. It was significant to him in a way only he could understand. His relief did not last long, before he heard the same voice call, “Mrs. Oparaugo.” Mamie pulled up by his arm and held his wrist; that was something she had not done since he was five. She held him as a mother does a child when they walk.
In the parlour there was a man. He was looking at a photo hung on the wall. The frame was brown with dust so he blew at it. He smiled then shook his head from left to right. In the photo was a man of not more than forty at the point with a woman just in her early thirties and nine children. The picture was quite old but he could make out six girls and three boys. The woman carried a child on her laps as she was the only one sitting in the picture. The man looked down at her as a pose for the picture rather than out of affection.
“Good morning sir” Afam greeted. His voice was shaky and he did his best to say the greeting as loud as he could. Mamie spoke and said she was sorry for taking so long to bring him out. The man waved a hand to dismiss her excuse and show understanding.
“Afamuefuna” Afam was startled. “My name is Nkwuede Amos, I am from the local education authority He handed Afam an envelope with the seal and crest of the state government on it. It was addressed to Afamuefuna Oparaugo, Amizu Central Primary School. Afam held the envelope at arms length as if it were some abomination. The man continued, “I am sure you remember winning the state wide essay and quiz competitions held for primary five students in the state. Your school hosted the final stage, we required that you come to the local education authority with a parent or your headmaster to collect your prize but you haven’t come. When I got to your school yesterday, your headmaster told me you had not been in school since the competition. Why?” Afam’s face felt hot, then the pain came and the tears followed, Mamie had just stung him with a slap. Afam made to run but he only ran into Mamie who skillfully placed a knock on his head and motioned for him to stand there quiet and the torrent came, “I have warned you several times to stop going to the field anytime you are supposed to be in school. So, for two weeks you have been going to the field instead of school” Whoop! Another slap and Afam began to sob. “You have made this man to come all the way from erm… erm… erm… come all the way to the house just to see you. You are now a big man na… we should all fill forms to book appointments just to see you.”
The man had left and Mamie went after him, she apologized, said thank you and came into the parlour panting. Afam was back in his room. He was sitting curled up behind the door crying. Mamie found the envelope on the TV stand and opened it. It contained a cheque worth one hundred thousand naira and a congratulatory letter to Afam that said he won a scholarship to attend the Government Secondary School when the new session begins. Mamie was happy for the cheque but for the scholarship she hid the letter, Afam was to stay home and help her hawk groundnuts; she had not let him get a primary education for nothing.
“Afamuefuna!” Mamie called. She took a whip and went to him. Afam stretched out his left hand and showed his palm he took ten stinging strokes and listened to a long warning and threat of what would happen to him if he ever told anyone of the man’s visit.
An hour later, Afam had a tray of groundnuts balanced on his head. Mamie counted them again and said one hundred and fifty. They were tied up in nylon bags. “How much is it?” “One fifty naira,” Afam replied.

Author: Urom, Uchenna
Date: 26th December, 2018

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