My colleague talked about this eatery and how nice their food was. So after our engagement that afternoon, he insisted I follow him to confirm for myself and maybe fall in love with their food just like he did. Frankly, I was not ready for the surprise waiting for me when we got there.
The guy who came to take our order looked familiar. He reminded me of someone I was not able to recall immediately but as he talked about the menu with my colleague and I fixed my gaze on him, I was able to slowly remember the face. I hoped it was not who I had in mind but there is only one way of finding out, so I had to ask him.
He confirmed he was the person and also confirmed the school. He told me I looked familiar too but he couldn’t place my face. He asked if I frequented a popular brothel around Ikeja and I assured him I was not the one he had in mind.
But I remembered him clearly, because the victim never forgets and the Son of Nebu didn’t forget this guy who bullied him in Primary 5. Throughout the three terms of our Primary 5, he tormented me before, during and after exams. He never forgot to top it up with verification after we have received our report cards.
This is what he does.
At first I felt it wasn’t serious but slowly, I started becoming afraid of him and each time I saw him, my heart skipped a beat. Right there at that eatery, my heart skipped immediately I connected the dots and I felt so uncomfortable. I wanted to leave but my colleague insisted we had our lunch there. The guy served us and went to sit. The more I looked at him, the more the memories returned and slowly, resentment gave way to anger.
I yelled at him to come and explain why the food was salty. My colleague was shocked because we were served the same food and it was not salty. I told him to stay out of it. I yelled at the guy again and he apologized with head bent a little. My colleague noticed my countenance and told the guy to leave us.
Tiny tears were already gathering around my eyes.
I told my colleague the encounter I had with the guy many years ago and my colleague called him to ask if he remembered a certain “Martin Nworah who had bowlegs and smiled often.” When his mind was juggled enough and he remembered me, the first words he said; “Please I am sorry.”
That infuriated me all the more and I just stopped eating. He requested us to enter an inner section of the eatery so we could talk. I refused to stand up but my colleague nudged me and I finally agreed.
He went on to talk about how life has been up and down for him and his family. And how recently, after taking over his mother’s shop since he couldn’t find a job, he has managed to breathe life back into the business. He apologized again and told me he tried connecting with me some years back but he didn’t know how to contact me. He said he tried to send a message on Facebook but I never responded, probably because I didn’t see the message.
My colleague intervened and said lots of things. Funny thing was as all these things were going on, I couldn’t look my primary school bully in the face. I was still afraid of him many years after and while he couldn’t do anything to me at this stage, I was still that emotionally broken little boy. it was a tough afternoon for me that day. While we were still talking, a young lady came in and whispered something to him. He introduced her to us as his younger sister who finished school two years ago but is still searching for a job.
My colleague whispered something to me and I told him I won’t let it happen. He whispered again and I reluctantly heaved a sigh before asking the lady her course and if she has any office management skills. She answered quite brilliantly. Her brother dismissed her and we continued our discussion.
All these years, I thought I had moved on but seeing him showed me I never got the closure I required. Right there, he was offering more than just closure for the emotional stress he caused me; he was offering an apology and restitution in any means I wanted. It was tough, but my heart was at peace and for the first time after I tried to figure out his face, I looked deeply into his eyes and told him everything is forgiven.
My colleague told him there may be an opening for an office secretary in his company with a good pay and if his sister is ready to work, she can send her CV and application for the post of “Front Desk Officer.” My colleague dropped his card and details where the lady will find the description and other details she needed.
My primary school bully thanked me and told us not to pay. We tripled the pay and told him to use the rest and buy new chairs for his eatery. In my heart, I was glad I made peace with my past that day and I got closure.
Many of us are hurt by different people and events in life. Many times we walk away thinking we have moved on but we go on to inflict more pain on others. Or if the table is turned, we keep getting hurt by different people. I hope you get to find closure whenever you’re hurt and you don’t carry it over to hurt other people who come into your life.
Till we get to the Promised Land, I shall be waiting for when you will pass me a glass of water and thank God for the gift of grace for the race.
Martin Beck Nworah