When All Ways Failed

Ikem has been written of by all and sundry. He was the black sheep of the family who dragged the family name to the mud by his notorious lifestyle. The parents devised so many strategies to make Ikem a better person, but all attempts to achieve that proved abortive. When all ways to make Ikem better failed, what could be the possible end of Ikem. Read down to find out!

It was already two minutes after the nine o'clock pm bell of St. Margaret's Catholic Church rang when Ikem slowly sneaked into the house. Immediately he stepped into the corridor; little did he know that papa was watching him through the window. " Hey, you stop there!" He shouted. Where are you coming back from? At this point, there was no hiding place for Ikem, and he began to stammer, " I, I, no, I'm..." Before he could fabricate a lie, as usual, his two cheeks received thunderous slaps consecutively from papa; this is the kind of slap that can make one transcend to the world of galaxies within a few seconds. 

As if that was not enough, papa gave him an uppercut accompanied by a tackle. Then, he laid a hand on his waist, drew out his black leather belt, and taught Ikem the lesson of his life. Mama could be heard as she ran and shouted from the living room, " nna anyị please leave him, you will kill him"! "Let me kill him; after all, he is my son"! This was papa's response, and at this juncture, my three other siblings and I became gripped with fears. 

That was not the first time that papa handled Ikem like that. Ikem was the second out of the five children that our parents had. He is my immediate elder brother and the black sheep of our family. Ikem decided and continued to be a thorn in our parents' flesh. Sometimes, our parents would wonder whether they were the ones that begot him. At a point, my father accused my mother of infidelity and demanded to go for a DNA test which proved my father, the biological father of Ikem.

Ikem was prominent for his notorious lifestyle and deeds. Ikem steals, smokes, and defrauds people; in fact, he does both the doable and undoable. He goes out in the morning and comes back anytime he likes. Every now and then, people bring bad reports about Ikem. At a point, my father disowned him, but at the pleas of my mother, he accepted him back.

There is nothing that my parents did not do to make Ikem a better person. My mother has soaked her chaplets in water severally for Ikem to change into a better person. There is no kind of seed she has not sowed on behalf of Ikem at our local church and different prayer houses. My father, on his own part, has used iron hand for him, yet, it was as if he was watering the rock. He later called on the village vigilantes to come and discipline him the day he stole a hundred thousand nairas from our neighbor. 

After they had beaten the hell out of him, he ran away from the house for about three months. When he finally came back, papa enrolled him into Army Day Command Mgbakwu, a military school in the neighboring town. Barely a month after his enrollment, he was expelled from the school. Later, the papa enrolled him at Pope Johnpaul's seminary Akokwa, and within two months, he got expelled from there too.

Consequently, papa resolved to handle Ikem himself. There is no kind of beating that papa does not give Ikem. Sometimes, he would ask him to pick a pin. In fact, there is no kind of punishment that my father has not given to Ikem. Despite all these, Ikem remained adamant about corrections and change.

In sequel to the above circumstances, my father decided to give up on Ikem. He said to him, " listen, my son, I did not kill my parents; therefore, you cannot kill me"! My father had to wash his Pilate hand over Ikem's issues. Mama, on the other hand, has also grown weary over Ikem. Ikem's matter has affected her so badly that her BP got on the increase. Whenever she's crying about Ikem, she would shout, "onye ka m mejoro ee"! (who did I offend?) The worst part of it is that our prodigal brother did not even care about how anyone felt.

So, one day mama came up with the idea to take Ikem to Rev. Fr. Aloysius, our parish priest, for counseling. My father kicked against the idea, saying that there is no hope for a dead rat. He said that it would be a waste of time and also dragging his family name into the mud in the sight of the parish priest. Mama assured him that there was no harm in trying, and after much persistence, papa decided to give it a trial. The first of all met the Parish priest and explained the situation at hand. Then, he asked them to bring Ikem to his office the next day.

So, the next day, they took Ikem to the parish priest, and the reverend's father welcomed him with a large heart and asked my parents to excuse them. Later on, after the first session of the counseling, the reverend father's phone went missing. After much investigation, the phone was tracked down to Ikem's room. That day, mama cried uncontrollably like a baby whose mother weaned at an early stage. " Yes, I knew it"! Shouted papa with fury. "Didn't I tell you that this idiot will disgrace me"? He continued to lament, but to everyone's surprise, the reverend's father didn't even act like he was offended. Rather, he calmed my parents down and assured them that Ikem would change for the better. He then asked Ikem to pack his belongings and follow him to the parsonage so that he would start living there with him. Ikem, covered with shame, did not utter a word but quietly entered his room, picked a few of his belongings, and zoomed off with the reverend father.

Time flew into months, and nobody heard from Ikem. We only come across him each time we go for mass in the church. He never failed to attend church activities ever since he started staying in the parsonage. Papa was happy because he felt like someone who had been relieved of a very heavy burden; of course, Ikem was one. So, one day, in the cool of the evening, the sun was already retiring from its daytime activities. The evening breeze waved so beautifully from one angle to another, giving us a feeling of friendliness. Mama was in the kitchen preparing dinner with our elder sister. My two younger siblings were washing the plates and getting them ready for dinner. Papa was in the parlor listening to the evening news, and I was busy watering the garden as it was my turn. Suddenly, we heard a horn from the outside of the gate. " Go and open the gate for the mechanic"! Papa shouted from the parlor, thinking that it was his car mechanic who carried the car out earlier before for servicing. 

Then, I ran to the gate, opened it, and lo and behold; it was Rev. Fr. Aloysius and my brother Ikem! I ran back at once to inform my parents, and at the breaking of the news, mama fainted. So we ran helter-skelter, got water, and sprinkled it on her. Uche, my younger brother, was asked to fan her with a plastic hand fan, and she was later resuscitated. Then, we all went inside the house, moved to the parlor, and sat down on the couches. At that moment, there was total silence, the kind that had not even been experienced in the graveyards. If a pin had fallen down, it would have sounded louder than St. Margaret's church bell. Everyone's eyes moved wantonly from one direction and person to another, as that was the only way we could communicate at that moment.

Papa's eyes gazed inquisitively at the Rev. Father, who broke the silence as if he had read everyone's mind. He cleared his throat and began, "Maazi Ifeanyi, please do not be disturbed that I visited you and your family unannounced; this time around, I came with good news"! He said this with a beaming smile on his face. My father turned and looked at my mother, and my mother returned the gaze at my father with her mouth agape. So the Rev. Fr. told us that Ikem had turned a new leaf, and he had decided to send him back to school. We couldn't believe it, but it later happened to be true. Goodness! Our prodigal brother has come back to his senses! 

So, after Rev. Fr. Aloysius gave us the testimony of Ikem's miraculous change and told us his intention to send him back to school, my parents wholeheartedly gave their consent. What could they have done?

Before we knew what was happening, Ikem graduated and came out with a wonderful result. The reverend father, though he had been transferred to another parish, gave him the scholarship to study medicine abroad. All these seem like a dream to us. Later, after some years had passed, Ikem graduated and came out as one of the best students in his school, and the government of the USA employed and retained him in one of the renowned hospitals over there. My parents even traveled to the USA on one occasion for medical check-ups. 

Later he came back to Nigeria and built the renowned Ikem Specialist Hospital in my hometown. My parents now parade themselves as 'mama doctor' and 'papa doctor. ' Who could believe that the black sheep of the family would still turn to be the pride of the family? When all ways failed in making Ikem a better person, God, in His mercy, showed and granted my parents a new and easier way which led to success.

Please, this is fiction.

Moral lessons: 

* Never write anyone off no matter how bad he or she is; no one knows the yam that will survive the period of famine.

* Never relent in giving success a trial. No matter the number of times you have failed, keep pushing (always remember the story of Thomas Edison).

*Nobody is born to be a failure.

*Patience is the key to success.

Chidimma Madueke

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