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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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    She Misses Odogwu Ekene


    I was travelling to the North a few years ago, and there was an argument inside the luxurious bus between a guy in that looked like those typical Igbomen with faded clothes, in their 40s and the conductor. He was given a seat by the aisle which he didn’t want. The bus was filled with youth corpers going for youth service.

    He refused to sit where the conductor gave him. I saw the argument and told him to come sit close to me and that I’ll give him water and biscuits. The rest of the passengers teased him to go and sit close to ‘that fain geh’. He looked at me and said, “taaar gettat.”

    After much back and forth, he decided to sit in one of the spaces that was vacant. Later, he looked around and came to sit close to me… he was grumbling and speaking Igbo.

    After he was done grumbling, I gave him a bottle of water and peppermint… he looked at me, mumbled some thank you, and took it.

    After a while, he turned to me and said “solly say I shout for you.” He asked my name, I told him, he saw the wallpaper on my phone and asked if I was a doctor, I told him it’s my sister that my phone is bad so I borrowed her phone. I told him I didn’t have a job, and he asked me which state I was from, I told him Delta state.

    He said his name is Ekene, from Anambra, his mother is from Enugu, he is a businessman with businesses in Onitsha and he opened a branch of the business in Jos, so he’s going to Jos.

    I told him he was a big man o, a millionaire with plenty businesses around, and he’s doing like poor man quarrelling inside bus when he’s supposed to enter plane… I hailed him. “Odogwu Ekene” he threw his head back and laughed, he shook his legs vigorously and proud. From his English and accent, it was obvious he wasn’t educated.

    Shortly, a preacher came to preach, and after he finished preaching and came down from the bus, I stood up and corrected some negative messages and did a little campaign for Peter Obi

    By the time I finished, the youth corpers were clapping, and the bus came alive. Ekene said he likes how I speak English, and he said he left school in “Class one.”

    I told him he is a millionaire na, we that went to school is still broke and looking for jobs.
    He laughed again and said he likes his children to talk and speak English like me.

    He kept quiet for a long time then suddenly asked me if I would like to marry somebody who didn’t go to school and could not speak English… the question was so direct and straight… I told him that if the person has money to take care of me and would teach me his language, I will definitely marry him.

    He looked at me and said I should tell him “tlut” if I have a boyfriend, I said I have, but he’s very far away. Then he said he would marry me that the boy is not serious. (Igbo men and snatching other peoples girlfriends are 5&6)

    We got to Enugu, and he asked if I like to eat Okpa, I lied that I’ve not tasted Okpa before, Ekene bought me Okpa and 7up.

    I told him it’s very sweet, he bought 2 extra and told me that if I came to his village, his mother would make Okpa for me.

    I said I don’t like to cook or wash clothes, Ekene said he has boys that will wash clothes and we will have who will cook.

    Throughout the journey, if I want to pee, Ekene would come down from the marcopolo bus and hold my hand for me to come down gently, he would shift his shoulder for me to rest my head on.

    Sweet native Igbo gentleman.

    Urhobo boys… see una mate!

    The youth corpers were laughing and teasing him. He ignored them. If he wants to talk to me, he would speak Igbo, then when he realise I don’t understand Igbo, he would try to speak English and end it with something like “wate wantana” I’m sure I didn’t write it correctly. But I guess he meant “do you understand?”

    Our bus got spoilt, so many times that we ended up spending 48 hours on the road instead of 24 hours… Ekene was with me. He goes everywhere I go, telling me about food, his only sister, and his village.

    When we stopped, we exchanged numbers… I gave him my glo… Ekene was calling me every day… he would ask about my day.

    He calls me “Ada Mmarama”, I call him Odogwu Ekene.

    When I was leaving Jos, he came to the park to see me off. He asked me why is it that he’s the only one calling, I told him I didn’t have credit. Ekene went to buy N500 glo, asked me to load it, and call him… I did. He said he would come to Awka on 23rd December and stay till 2nd January. He said he would come meet my mother and then take me to see his mother because his father is no more.

    Before our bus was leaving, Ekene gave me 3000 to buy Okpa so I won’t be hungry on the road. As our bus was leaving, Ekene called after me in his thick Igbo accent “Ijeoma oo” (Safe Journey).

    Before I got home, Ekene called me more than 10 times and would ask me in his Anambra tongue, “Ada mmarama, una don leach?”

    Anambra tongue and thick Igbo accent,
    So sweet,
    So cute,
    So pure and innocent.

    We kept communication. If I call him and he didn’t pick, he would call back and apologize “eweniwe o”

    That “oo” at the end of his conversation and his tongue pronunciation of ‘R’ as ‘L’ excites me. I just want to hear him talk… I want to hear that thick Igbo accent.

    He asked me to send my account number so that he would send me money to buy my own phone so that I can “wassap him” I told him my bvn has issues, he said when he comes, he would buy the phone for me.

    Before he ends any call, he would say in his Anambra tongue, “bayi bayi oo” (bye bye)

    His Igbo accent is just too sweet and melodious. His laughter was like a song in my ears.

    I would hail him. “Odogwu Ekene,” he would reply, “Ada mmarama.”

    We were getting closer by the day, and I got scared. I don’t want to give him false hope… he was making plans for my coming to his village, his meeting my mom, and was teaching me Igbo.

    I didn’t know how to tell him I wasn’t interested in marriage or anything serious. I had to remove my glo sim from my phone… I know he would be worried sick because he really meant that marriage and taking me to see his mother thing seriously.

    People like that with less education can be very trusting, highly principled, and straight to the point. When they make up their mind to be with someone or when they fall in love, they go all heads in, they take their relationship very seriously, and it can be very fatal if they get heartbroken.

    I just didn’t know how to tell him he shouldn’t fall in love with me or involved me in his future plans, I am just a fantasy, I don’t want to be his reality… I hope if he doesn’t hear from me for a long time, he would move on.

    I miss his Anambra accent, mostly when he tries to apologize and say “eweniwe oo” or when calls me Ada Mmarama.

    I miss Odogwu Ekene.

    – written in 2022.


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