The Bata Dancer. Rotimi Ogunjobi

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Название The Bata Dancer
Автор произведения Rotimi Ogunjobi
Жанр Зарубежное фэнтези
Издательство Зарубежное фэнтези
Год выпуска 0
isbn 9788835416302

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life is not about having hopes, but rather about heeding reality. For nearly two years now there had been little to do at the office. The pay was not regular either, and he only survived by offering private home tutoring for parents who could afford such for their children. On the positive side however, he used the opportunity to complete his Masters degree at the University of Ibadan. Today, he was on his way to Ijebu-Jesa, where a private secondary school had given him a contract job as English tutor. It would be a better job situation than what he presently had; at least he would be regularly paid.

      “You know I will be back as soon as you give me a call”, Yomi assured his friend .He surely would miss Debola, but he consoled himself that driving from Ijebu-Jesa to Ibadan would take him less than three hours, if a meeting became urgently needed.

      Debola had been more than helpful. Debola procured for him a study leave albeit without pay and which the administrators were pleased to accept for Yomi: they had no money to pay anyway. The Heritage Theater project had been for nearly three years unfinanced. The project had not been formally closed down, only shunted off the tracks of government fiscal duties. The dozen or so regular employees were not formally asked to go away; each only left to make common sense decisions on the basis of their individual personal challenges. That was usually how things worked in Government.

      But Yomi wasn’t leaving Ibadan just because the new job had better prospects. There were deeper persuasions. One of them was his recently retired marriage. This particular episode of his life always filled him with conflicting emotions – relief, happiness and sadness. He would feel relief that a very bad relationship was finally over; he would feel happiness that he was now completely free of it; he would feel sadness for his young son Damilola, only four years old, and caught in the middle of bitterness between the two people he loved most in the world and would possibly in future, wonder whether he had been the cause of it all.

      Nearly anywhere he went in the city, he is confronted with the rubbles of his collapsed relationship. He would remember those places he went with Elizabeth when the marriage subsisted; he would remember those places he took his son when the going was still good; he would remember the smiles, the hugs, the strident demands of the little tot crying “daddy, carry me!” even when he had just moments before demanded to be permitted to walk by himself. All these memories, echoed from the landscape all around, regularly reawakening the sadness of his loss.

      Not that there was any regret that it all ended so badly; indeed his surprise was how it took so long to end. How his marriage with Elizabeth lasted as long as seven years? Looking back, he would be surprised at how little they had in common as interests, he and Elizabeth. The facts were that nothing he did ever interested her; neither was he able to discover what it was that interested her apart from the fact that she definitely enjoyed scolding him. It had been for him quite a hellish marriage.

      Crashed and beyond repair. If their relationship was a vehicle, that would be the description of its present condition. : crashed and beyond repair. His most desirable aim was to immediately put some distance between himself and the twisted carcass; as much distance as possible. He needed healing for his bleeding heart. He needed closure from that part of his life that had been so much a disaster, and given him the greatest feeling of failure, ever. He needed a place of quietness, to start reconstructing the ruins of his life from an entirely new set of plans. This job at Ijebu-Jesa was therefore a marvellous godsend.

      Running away. Running away from your challenges; his much younger self would have sneered. But what do young people know, Yomi thought? A dead marriage and a sad child, who would probably become traumatised by it all for life, had taught him great lessons. He was a lot wiser now than his cocky younger self.

      Yomi opened the door of his car, a grey 1990 Honda Accord and slipped into the driver”s seat. The clock on the dashboard told him the time was a quarter after three. It was a fine day in August. The weather was good and it was a nice sunny day, even though he could see some dark cloud looming in the far distance. He reckoned that it would take him a maximum of three hours to get to his destination despite the densely cratered highway he must travel through. His luggage was in the boot – a large suitcase and two smaller ones. The large suitcase contained his clothes; the others contained books, shoes and other knick-knack. He started the car, eased it out of the park and into the road. He took another parting look at the Ministry of Culture building, his office for the last eight years. He hoped he would be back, and he hoped that he would return stronger in vision and in spirit.

      An Old School music programme was playing Michael Jackson from the FM stereo. It was a dolorous ballad, Never Can Say Goodbye.

      “Even though the pain and heartache seems to follow me wherever I go….” Michael Jackson sang. Yomi loved Old School music from the Seventies. He thought they were the only popular music that had a future. He also loved Michael Jackson”s music, but this afternoon, the song that was playing only made him sad. He found a compilation from his car CD rack, and fed it into the player. McFadden & Whitehead rumbled out from his car speakers. . He turned up the volume and sang along. He loved this particular song, and it gave him the courage he desperately needed this day.

      “And if you’ve ever been down before

      I know that you refuse to be held down anymore

      Don’t you let nothing, nothing

      Stand in your way…….”

      It took him more than thirty minutes to escape the city traffic and to get on the inter-city highway leading to the town of Ile Ife. His final destination would be about twenty or thirty kilometres away from Ife, which he felt should be no more than one hour away considering all normal obstacles.

      Fifteen minutes or so into the highway, he discovered where those dark clouds he had before seen in the distance, were massed. The rain came down in a huge torrent and he drove very slowly because of low visibility. The rain lasted more than an hour and terminated suddenly in one of those baffling wonders of nature. Suddenly he looked before him and the road was clear even though a bit wet, and he looked behind from his rear mirror to see that the rain still poured down like the end of the world was nigh. But an even bigger disaster soon happened to his travel. He drove over a water-filled crater in the road, and as soon as he passed through, the front wheel of his car came suddenly apart. Yomi examined the damage and was distressed to find that there was no way the journey could continue without getting it repaired. The drive shaft was definitely finished. He had frequently seen this happen to many Honda vehicles but this was his first personal experience. He didn’t imagine that it could have happened to him at a worse time and place.

      Bad omen. Normally, he would have considered this a bad omen, a sign that his mission was destined for failure. But omens were meant to be believed by people with alternative choices. In his present fighting frame of mind, he shrugged the incident off as just a nuisance, just another hurdle to cross on his way to claim a prize. The rain had slowed him down immensely, and the time was now nearly five. Nevertheless, he reckoned he was about fifteen kilometres to Ife. He had two choices; one was to wait for a tow truck to come by, the other was to travel to Ife to fetch a mechanic. He considered that the first choice would be about being merely hopeful, because it was not certain that a tow truck would come along. He therefore decided on the other; locked up the car, and travelled with a passing taxi to Ife.

      Luck was with him, he imagined. Yomi found a Honda mechanic workshop near the edge of town, and which was really not any kind of miracle because nearly every mechanic repaired Honda cars, or claimed they could. He found the owner, and thirty minutes later they were both on their way back to the place where he had left his car along with the parts he needed to repair his Honda.

      Nevertheless, the repair took much longer than previously imagined.

      “We forgot to buy the lubrication grease”, the mechanic wailed. And so the mechanic needed to phone an apprentice to bring some. It was around seven and nearly totally dark before the car was once again fit to travel. Yomi dropped the mechanic and his apprentice off at Ife. It was not until nearly eight that he was finally able to continue his journey.

      He was tired; he should have found a hotel in Ife, in which to spend the night, he thought. But, he was