It was another headache-exuding gathering of some casual political analysts. My sighing and yawning meant nothing. My dad was invested in the ongoing conversation with his friends. The other day, they were in our house. Two neighbours came knocking because they thought there was a fight. “No, they are just discussing,” I smiled at their curiosity. This time, my dad and I were coming back from his monthly checkup at the hospital. He received a call from one of his friends for a brief hangout. I silently prayed that it would be brief indeed.
They were at the nkwobi joint not so far from the hospital. Seated and served, they exchanged flatters with their sauce-painted teeth embodying their croak laughter. I opted for a drink. One Conversation led to another that birthed another until the subsequent ones strayed from their ancestral root. And that was it; the aching topic surfaced. I shut my eyes in sheer frustration, quickly devising a befitting gesture to make that would excuse my dad to go home. I tried but it was futile.
“That is it, my brother”, the bald, chubby one remarked, rescuing the dripping sauce on the walls of his hands with his tongue.
“What do you mean by ‘that is it?'” the deep, cracked voice questioned. “So what you are telling me now is that this administration is treating you fine abi?”
“Ask him,” the other two chorused in support.
“No. It’s not about enjoyment. It is about it being an indirect tool to point us to the greater good.”
“Greater good? Ngwanu, what is the greater good, Odinaka?” the cracked voice directed to my seemingly pastoral dad.
“Listen,” the bald interrupted. “Have you not observed that in this country, we do not do what we ought to do until we experience some dire consequences for our passivity? Ask an average person if they have their voters card and listen to their response. If it is positive, then ask further about their plans to vote in the upcoming election and see how detached they automatically become. Is it not,…” “what is the name again o?” he tried to remember. “Ehen. Is it not political apathy? When we choose to abandon our right, we fall at the mercy of terrible governance which in a way is a blessing in disguise for us to learn our usual way,” he dropped his hands.
“Asi,” the cracked voice disapproved. “Is it the election in which the winner has been chosen prior, or the one that you get injured from? After getting injured, who will pay the bills: the already concluded winner or the one I intend to vote for? I justu na-ako akuko,” he mumbled in Igbo.
One of the chorusers sprinkled some spice. “You are talking about injury. We have death occurrences, I na-ako injury,” he made the face
“O-ho” the cracked voice stretched forth his palms in admission. “What are you telling me?” he referred to the supporting team. “A dead person is gone forever, election or no election.”
“Gbam,” the second choruser agreed “And if it is not death or injury, it will be the destruction of property. The hoodlums paid by these greedy politicians will lose control and surrender to their destructive instinct. Before you know it, shops are on fire, people’s livelihood, gone for election’s sake.
“Odiegwu,” the previous choruser shrugged.
“I don’t just understand what Odinaka and Edwin are saying. Are we not the one sacrificing our blood, sweat, and income for their selfish ambition?” the sentimental satisfaction on the cracked voice’s face was obvious.
There was a sudden silence.
The remaining pieces of nkwobi, awaiting their rapture, grew cold from its weariness.
I thought it would be a good time to redo my tactics: wide mouth, extensive stretch, and a loud yawn closure. But for the second time, I was disappointed again. “Nne, do you want another plate” was the response from my dad. His friends giggled and he continued in their line of discussion.
“Those facts cannot be denied, however;…”
“There is no ‘however,'” the cracked voice and the chorusers protested.
“Just hear me out,” my dad solicited. “Those facts exist, however; it should not become a license to surrender our fundamental human right to power-thirsty people who are oblivious that a governmental position is one of service to the people and not the other way round. If we continue in political apathy, we will always be at the mercy of tyrants and looters. As for safety, we could introduce better voting means.”
“Who will introduce?” the cracked voice bombarded.
Everyone burst into a peal of recovery laughter with an order from the bald man to the bar attendant “Madam, bring wash hand.”
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