Prose

RUDE AWAKENING

Alicia’s compound was a behive of activities as her younger sister and herself ran up and down alongside other kids in their compound. The 3rd term activities had just come to an end, ushering the kids into the long awaited  long vacation and they were most thrilled. Alicia loved to play a lot that she always looked forward to every long vacation.

 Their dad was the serious type who didn’t like to see his kids play for too long. He believed it was a waste of time, precious time that could be channelled into something else. He  was soon back from work, wearing a non friendly expression. One look at him and Alicia knew that play time was over.
Alicia was the elder of two daughters and was the one to always take the fall for every ill act. Their dad would always scold her, saying she ought to take control of the house whenever he wasn’t home, knowing full well that they had lost their mum to complications of child birth. She had died  giving birth to Lisa, the younger daughter and their dad had refused to remarry, focusing all his attention on raising his kids.
As a lawyer, it was difficult for Mr Ogbu to take care of his kids due to his tight schedule. He had employed a maid who cooked and cleaned the house till Alicia was ten and insisted on taking over. Lisa has been very supportive as well. She would always wash the plates in the house, wash her clothes and had started attempting cooking in recent times.
Mr. Ogbu would always take them shopping on Saturdays, spoiling them with ice cream, pizza and lots of other goodies. They even got to choose what park to visit at some weekends. It was an otherwise beautiful family. The kids on the other hand had read their dad like a book. It took only a minute for them to know when they had pissed him off, when work was annoyingly stressful and when he was in a good mood.
Their dad entered his room that evening, dropped his jacket and briefcase and made straight for the shower. The girls had at this point dismissed everyone and scurried into the sitting room, waiting for their dad, expecting the worst. Even though they knew he didn’t like them playing around, they had thought it would be different this time, since they were on holiday and there was no work to do in the house.
They watched as he ate dinner in silence. He hadn’t said a word since his return and the kid’s hearts were beginning to pound. He still had that look on his face and Alicia could tell what was coming. She readjusted uncomfortably on her seat from time to time, waiting for her dad to break the ice.
“Did you later get your results today?” Came the first question, after the table had been cleared. “Yes dad” the girls chorused and each made for their room to get theirs. Mr Ogbu scrutinly went through the results, intermittently moving from one result to the other and then back to the first. He was quiet for a while and the girls waited for his face to lighten up, but no, the initial expression still dominated.
“Congratulations Lisa. As usual, you have made me proud” he said, embracing the little girl. The momentry celebration soon ended as he turned to face Alicia. “You promised to do better this time around, what happened? Why does your report still say “5th out of 30”? Its  even worse than the 4th position you took the last time. Why is it that you beautiful girls don’t do well academically? You are too beautiful to behold and am beginning to think that it is distracting you from focusing on your academics.
Just take a good look at your sister, always top in her class. She is equally beautiful you know, yet she still takes her academics seriously. I don’t understand how you will be so behind even though the two of you now share the house chores equally. We don’t have dollads in this lineage o, better go and ask questions! Oh, before I forget, here is a quick reminder: “as long as you are in this house, you must go to school! Better take your studies seriously”. If you like play away your time, all you seem to know how best to do is play, dragging your sister into an unnecessary distraction…he kept muttering as he made his way to his room.
Years went by and Alicia struggled amidst tears to please her dad, all to no avail. She soon settled for his words: you beautiful girls don’t do well academically. She stopped working hard, believing she didn’t have what it takes to succeed academically. She settled for a less stressful course in the university where she spent all her time looking beautiful and attending every single event in town.
She only read her books from two weeks to their exams. Her clique of friends shared the same school time table as herself. They were in the same marketing department, the reason they had the same schedule.  Alicia seemed to be the leader of the group, the most beautiful, outgoing, and also the one who made the A’s in their courses. Her colleagues, not just her friends admired her. They made sure she was present at every departmental event they had as her presence always attracted more spectators.
They even went to the extent of giving her one of their departmental T-shirts for free…a form of advert they called it. “Other people will want to buy once they see Alicia putting it on” a member of the committee had said.  Alicia was happy with the development. She considered it as “something to make her look even more beautiful, the one thing she knew how best to do, social events aside”.
Four years was soon over and they were done with school. The series of send off parties, done and dusted. They all traveled back home, waiting for the convocation list so they could do their convocation and apply for NYSC. Lisa took after her dad and was at this point rounding up her first year in the university, as a law student. As expected, she adapted excellently and was doing extra ordinarily well.
Alicia was soon bored at home as she was almost always alone. With Lisa in school and her dad always at work, she felt like she suddenly had no one. Her dad and herself didn’t have the best relationship, so even when he was home, she still felt home alone. She could count the number of times she had visited home since the last four years. She felt almost like a stranger in the neighborhood. She even found it difficult to decide where to go to for a hang out.

The local eatery she finally settled for was surprisingly nice, infact, too appealing for a little community like hers. Her dad had refused to change location so he doesn’t loose his girls to “the crowd” as he called it. One taste of the fried rice and coleslaw and Alicia was full of praises. It was beyond what she had expected. Her social nature took over, she took snapshots of the food and wrote a short but rich promotion about the food, then posted on her different social media handles…. “One thing she was proud of in her little community” she attached to the write-up.

She convinced whoever came her way that they just had to try the fried rice, that it was beyond magical! A young man in his office wears had just walked into the eatery when he noticed the little crowd around a seemingly beautiful young lady. He made his way to the spot and took a seat right next to hers. Her marketing skills were magnificent! At first he thought she worked for the eatery until he  got a chance to speak with her.

Of course he tried the food, just as everyone else. The restaurant was soon out of fried rice and coleslaw. The manager was alerted and he soon walked up to Alicia. After a brief chat, some of his staff were soon at Alicia’s table, bearing a plate of every single food they had left in their menu for her to taste and market as well, free of charge of course. She was also to forget about paying for the food she had initially had, “the manager has taken care of the bill” one of them said.

 An hour was all it took and the eatery had sold every single food they had left. Orders kept coming in and people kept  rushing in for a taste of the recently discovered delicacy! The young man by Alicia’s side simply watched in amazement. He was the C.E.O of a private Enterprise who wasn’t only in dear need of a marketer for his products but also a manager for the new branch he had just opened in Alicia’s community.
He could barely hold in his songs of praises for Alicia. He went on and on about how he had never seen a marketer so good. The long day ended with three job proposals on Alicia’s desk. Surprisendly, they were ready to have her do the three both before and after her youth service year.

She immediately rushed home to break the good news to her dad. On her way, she tried contacting her friends but none picked her calls. She was too excited to let the gist wait any longer. She logged onto WhatsApp and slid into one person’s dm. The message she saw was both unexpected and discouraging. Ella had accused her of making her waste her life in the University. The girl had said that it was because of Alicia that every single one in the clique didn’t read, now Alicia was the only one who graduated among them. “You even had a 2:1” the girl had said, causing the day she met Alicia.

As Alicia went through the whole day’s events in her mind, tears ran down her eyes. So, she wasn’t just beautiful but talented and smart too. Making a 2:1 without much reading and attention to her academics, landing two jobs in one day, one as a marketer at “the gold’s restaurant” and the other as head of the marketing department and manager at “the Silveting Enterprise”.
She cried until her dad walked into her room to find out what suddenly went wrong. “So I’m not just beautiful but smart and talented too! You said I was only beautiful and nothing more! …Something you made me believe as a child and it almost ruined my life. It had to take total strangers to reassure me that I had all it takes, that I was the best they had seen!” She went on and on, crying and lamenting. Mr Ogbu was short of words. It was at this point that he knew he had failed as a father, as long as Alicia was concerned. For the first time Alicia saw her dad cry. He wept like a baby, pleading for forgiveness.