KACHI, THE QUEEN OF THE STREETS……..

To be a student in the prestigious University of Benin, Nigeria is an accolade that I and my friend, Kachi, yearned to have and own. We spent one year at home, watching our mates wear their matriculation gowns was enough to make us study hard to make it into the university. Despite the rumors that the school was well known for cultism, youthful menace and exuberance, we never lost focus. Even at eighteen, right in the heart of Ojuelegba in Lagos, Kachi commanded respect. She grew on the influence and valor of her father who was a retired soldier. I always used to sit and wonder why their family decided to live in a place like Ojuelegba when they were rich enough to get a decent house in a decent environment. When I asked her that question, she said to me,

” You’ll never get rid of the rash at the backside until you blow it open. Papa said that this means that one would never know the suffering of others until he experiences it. If he doesn’t experience it, how would he provide a solution?”

She even talked like her father, always talking in riddles, parables and proverbs like a typical child of the soil. I’ve always regretted being a Nigerian, never have I been grateful to God for such a curse upon my head. Everything was hard, if not for Kachi and her family, my own family would still be living off the fallen crumbs of rich people. Her father provided running and clean water for the community, her father made sure that the sanitation hours every Saturday was strictly adhered to. He also made sure that all the house owners in the area paid their community dues just so that the community school, the community roads and the community hospital were in good working conditions. He loved to circle children around him every night and he would tell them mouth watering tales of the Biafran war. He’ll always say to all of us,

” A better Nigeria, starts with you, your family, your neighbors and your friends. Always tell yourself, I AM NOT FOR SALE.”

He’ll always make us beat our chest and say to ourselves,

I AM NOT FOR SALE!!!!”

Even after her father crossed the bar to the great beyond, she would stand by the mirror and say to herself every morning,

I AM NOT FOR SALE!!”

Before we left for school, she made sure that her father’s principles in Ojuelegba stood firm without shiver. She made sure all the money accrued to the community was spent wisely, she made sure to carry on her father’s legacy. When we got admission into the university, there was celebration all over, her mother cooked a huge pot of party rice for everyone in the community. When it was time to go, we packed foodstuff huge enough to send a bride to her husband’s house. The environment was different for us, it took us time to adapt and in no time the cultism that we were warned about showed its ugly face on our path. One day while walking to class in our usual chatter and excitement, a silver shiny car wickedly ran over an old woman who was carrying her wares to the market.

Immediately, Kachi sprung into action, she didn’t even think twice before picking up a huge rock, throwing it with so much force that it smashed the headlights of the car even when it was on the move. I ran over to help the old woman who was already in tears, she was carrying tomatoes and it was smashed and torn to pieces. As the car reverse back in anger, she picked up her phone and began to record the whole scene. The driver came out, dressed like a low budget agbero (bus conductor). He was drunk and smoked, he even puffed the smoke in all of our faces,

” How dare you bash my car! You Sabi who i be for this campus?”

” I don’t care who you are! You ran an old woman over and you’re taking her to the hospital!”

I noticed the red beret and the red belt he wore, then I knew he was the leader of the very notorious cult group in school. He must be the Senator’s son, Kachi already seemed to know this and like the intelligent human being she was, she watched him laugh at her to scorn,

” Look, I would not take that woman to any hospital in my car. I just washed that car and I do not want any stain of poverty on it. You take her yourself, I’ll give you money for the bills—“

” You’ll take her to the hospital because it is the right thing to do to atone for the wrong you committed. I am sure your father wouldn’t want something this small to ruin his political career. Apologize to the old woman and take her to the hospital, do not dare me!”

The old woman was wailing in my arms while I tried to convince Kachi to collect the money he was offering and let all the squabble slide but as expected she wouldn’t listen me. Her mind was already made up, he didn’t seem to find the threat funny and the burning fury in his eyes was more than enough to tell how angry he was,

” Tell me, how much do you want, ten thousand, fifty thousand, just name it!! Stop all this drama, every man has a price, so start talking and save my precious time please—–“

” It’s a pity that you obviously haven’t met a woman like me, I’ve told you what you must do, as for my price, I’m very sorry, I AM NOT FOR SALE.”

The shock on his face was evident, if he was ever going to forget anything, it would never be this day. Kachi smiled in achievement when the hard core cultist drove us to the hospital and made sure the woman was treated properly with the best medical care and the best of apologies. One man down and onto the next, whatever consequence we were to face was nothing compared to the joy and pride that she felt when she made the world know that she, ONYEKACHI OKAFOR, is not for sale.

My Nostalgic Pen ❄️❄️

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