Life and General FictionNaija Stories

An Uncle’s Place

At an uncle’s place I could see the multi-coloured fluorescent light hanging majestically up the roof; with my back laying softly on the bed as I stare bluntly and vaguely at it. A few times I wondered why a room so clearly lighted up lacked the basic essence of adequate window vent and an electrical fan.

Today is no different; I am reading a book half-mindedly waiting peacefully for dinner to be served; I lay half-lazily and half-alert on a mid-sized bed that could verily accommodate up to three bodies—such as me and my two male cousins.

Laying softly, I can’t help but cast my dreary and perturbing mind back to when I first visited here; it served as a short means of escape and refuge from the threatening arms of insecure destitution that stared me in the face. I was timid, anxious and almost naïve, yet I acted like I was a growing young man and not a child.

On my late evening arrival, I struggled to find my way; enduring the suspenseful and tense short journey. I had never been here before, hence my lack of exposure and anxiety would not let me off the hook easily.

I got off the bus after squeezing myself out of the packed and congested back seat. As I stood, across the road I could see my uncle holding a phone firmly and staring expectantly across. I remember crossing briskly to the other side with my unhandy baggage, and greeting him quickly. We walked side by side our shoulders as he recounted briefly to me my family’s history. His warmth and heartfelt greetings almost set the tone for the discontinuous feeling of awkwardness I was feeling. Yet I dragged myself on, tailoring on with him, and seconding my tingly voice to his drab stories. I had met his wife. And his two sons; and had offered them sweets (Perhaps trying to act like a big brother).

Now I’m back in the present moment, with its overbearing presence and awkwardness. Few times I would be invited to come watch TV in the sitting room, which was a few steps away, and was linked by a small passage which also served as a veranda. But I hardly wanted out, and would only force myself out the few times I did. And the few times I went out to the sitting room I would rather watch juvenile or childish programmes, instead of programs that seemingly conformed with my age.

I had my meals on the small table just beside the bed, and get un-frequent knocks on the wooden door each time they are ready—a form of permission from me to allow entrance.

Sometimes I get treated like a prince and get hailed and praised; perhaps for my striking calmness and composure. Still I get the feeling of a stranger running within my blood.

Within the moment I pick up my unhandy diary and scribbled a few of my thoughts hastily zooming through my mind. Each time I settled to write I hardly wanted a distraction; but half of the time my boisterous and energetic cousins would bust in uninvited, starting a chatty conversation with me. I was good at hiding my true feelings, hence I would pretend like I was interested (but I wasn’t). That was one glaring difference between them and my immediate family; they hardly understood my gloomy and solitary lifestyle. My cousins had intruding behaviours, they butted into my privacy half of the time.

I remember running errands with my cousins and doing a few house chores as a sign of my responsiveness. We gradually got along quite well and became like pals.

I remembered all these memories fleetingly as I tried to pen down the narrative of my experience at my uncle’s place. But the words were hardly forth coming. Yet I wrote what came to my mind and stuck to my heart.

At my absence I feel the missing aura and soothing environment of the neighbourhood. The ease and freewill lifestyles of my new found family, by proximity and origin.

Between the passing moments I take a pause and a short breath. I thought mildly about my uncle’s place; the privacy and serenity I enjoyed in between my awakening sadness and anxiety. I get the grumbling feeling I would love to visit there again.

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