Ebuka

It's a story of a hustler who hustled wrong...I always wanted to be like my stepbrother Anthony. Anthony is my stepbrother, we're in a family of 28 kids, my father married 5 wives, and Anthony is the 1st son of the second wife and the first son in general.

My mother is the fourth wife, and I'm the first son for her. Anthony has always impressed the whole family since he moved to Lagos, sending tons of gifts to the whole family and special ones to his mother, I wasn't jealous cos I was trying my best to make my mum happy, but I guess my best wasn't enough, cos mum was never satisfied. She always wanted more as she made it a point of duty to keep comparing me to Anthony, who was way older than me; she kept asking if Anthony had two heads or was a superhuman? The pressure was too much for me. 

Because of the number of kids we were in the family, nobody was bothered about education; if you had enough to eat, why stress yourself by going to school? We had good home training and good morals. I was a good boy on my own ooo. At the age of twelve, I started bricklaying work; at first, it was enjoyable because I had no value for money and my needs then weren't much, but as I grew older, things changed; out of my bricklayer pay, I'll feed mum and my five other siblings, I'll buy somethings needed at home, buy clothes for my siblings. Mum was helpful as well, she sold periwinkle and pepper at the market every day, but that little change wasn't enough to give us a better living like mummy Anthony. 

One day Anthony came to visit as usual, but this time it was different; he came back with the latest SUV 2021 model; the car was so beautiful it got everyone salivating. He flung tons of money in the air, and people scrambled all over the floor to pick them; I was dancing and celebrating Anthony, knowing fully well he would find me something at the end of the celebration, as I was still protecting Anthony from falling cos the crowd was getting to much, and he has been pushed here and there, I saw our last born screaming my name at the top of her voice.

Me: wettin happen? I asked, "Mummy dey call you," she replied and joined the crowd in fighting for naira notes on the floor. I told Anthony I'd be back as I walked out of what seemed to be a market square, rushed into my mother's small hut, and saw her sitting on our low grass bed sobbing. 

Me: mama, Wettin happened? She was still crying; she didn't talk to me

Me: mama talk na, shey you see say I been dey busy, and I wan commot outside again make senior Anthony give me money. She still didn't say a word

Me: I don commot since you no wan talk. "No, be your mate be that?" Her voice came in as sharp as a needle piercing my ears, 

Mama: no be your mate don commot go city go find money come give him mama, now Anthony don buy motor, you wettin you don ever buy give me? 

Me: mama, you still dey talk about this Anthony matter? You know say Anthony no be my mate for anything so why you dey like to dey compare me and am every time? I no fit do Wettin Anthony dey do, and you know am, Anthony deh works for a company, Anthony been go school me I no even sabi how to spell my name, mama why you dey like to dey talk dis talk every time? 

Mama: I go talk am, I go continue to dey talk am! Give me money 

Me: mama, I dey give you money, I don ever go hustle come back I no give you money?... 

Mama: no be that kind yeye money I want, gimme better money, abi you no see how Anthony dey pour him mama money like water? Na, that kind of money I want. 

Me: mama shey you know say you no deh try for me?.. 

Mama: Wettin' you want make I do? I want money, better money, gimme money Ebuka give me money. I couldn't stand it anymore; I walked out and went back to meet Anthony. He quickly noticed the frown on my face as he asked, "Wettin' happen?" 

Me: (sigh) nothing, brother

Anthony: no, dey frown your face when you dey stands with me, oya smile. He dipped his hand into his big kaftan and brought out huge wade of money, a fresh, clean 500 naira note, and handed it to me.

Anthony: I want to make you dey happy. I couldn't hold the joy as I jumped on him; he smiled and warned me not to stain him with an expensive cloth. I rushed to the hut to keep the money; mama was still there. Immediately she saw me; she started nagging again. 

Mama: na like this you wan dey continue to dey run, when Anthony come back come give you small change you go just dey smile like fowl, dey do like say na heaven him give you. I got pissed this time. 

Me: Wettin' you want make I do, eh? Make I kee myself? 

Mama: God forbid am, Anthony no-kill himself before him start to dey get money, tell Anthony to make him carry you go city make you go follow hustle for that side. 

Me: mama, I do go school na

Mama: Anthony, no go school, Anthony stop for primary six, so him dey like you. No, be until you work for the company as him dey do, him mama tell me to say hustle for that side dey pay well well, go even if na this bricklayer you do for that side e go pay well. Ebuka no take am like say I hate you, just look this thing the way I deh look am if you follow Anthony go city you go also dey come back like a big man. Abeg do am for me, abi you no wan help you small brothers and sisters? Abeg Ebuka nwam abeg I dey beg you. She actually had a point there, and I didn't want to live like a peasant for the rest of my days, so I told her I would speak with Anthony about it. 

That evening the youths of the village gathered in our compound drinking and gisting; there was enough to eat and to spare, women also came to cook, and young girls scattered everywhere trying to get Anthony's attention, but he never flirted with the village girls, he calls them cheap low class. While everybody was merry and drinking, I went to Anthony to have a heart-to-heart talk with him. 

Me: brother Anthony, abeg I wan talk to you. He smiled 

Anthony: Wettin you want talk am

Me: abeg I wan follow you go city make I go hustle small for there. Make I fit dey... Before I finished, he cut me short. 

Anthony: no wahala 

Me: (surprised) brother, make I follow you? 

Anthony: Ebuka I no get energy. 

My joy knew no bounds that night as I ran back to mama to give her the latest news; she was wild in joy. Preparation for my departure started immediately. 

Two days later, Anthony was ready to head back to the city; he picked me and two of my other stepbrothers from different mothers who had had the same discussion with him; we smiled at each other as we stepped into the car, and he drove off, I could see mama waving at the car even at a very far distance, tears were running down my eyes as we left the village so sudden. 

While in the car, Anthony gave us some simple rules

1. Don't talk to anybody in Lagos

2. Do only what you're asked to do

3. No friends or girlfriend 

4. If you need anything, ask him

That was all, it was the simplest rule I've ever heard, so it wouldn't be hard to abide by it. We arrived at his mighty mansion in Lagos; it was like a fairyland, beautiful and gigantic. 

During the first week in Lagos, we were lavished with food, drinks, and new clothes, each time we asked Anthony about job hunting, he told us to relax and that everything had been arranged. After a month in Lagos without any progress in work, we weren't angry; we were worried, so we met him to talk about our aim of coming to Lagos. He laughed and told us to remain calm and that we will begin work the next week. Eager and ready, we were happy, so we asked for the kind of work, and he assured us that everything would be explained to us when the time came. 

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