Ejike’s eyes flipped open and he stared into the darkness. It was so real this time, the dream. He wiped his forehead with the back of his palm, and used his singlet to fan himself. The air was thick with humidity; NEPA had last restored electricity three weeks ago. He slapped his ear and the buzzing noise of the mosquito stilled.
Each passing dream seemed more like reality; his late father’s voice was so audible; the message, so clear. It always ended with him wanting to touch his father, but Mazi Iheoma always slipped beyond reach. Ejike would take long strides to reach him, and then suddenly wake up just before he could touch him.
He slapped another mosquito that sucked on his arm, and sat upright in bed. The cocks had not crowed and the goats were still asleep, but Ejike knew he would not return to sleep. Many thoughts occupied his mind- his father’s appearances to him in dreams, telling him of how he would become a great singer of international renown… he would bring glory to the Ezeagu family; his persistent failure since beginning his OND studies at the polytechnic; and Adaku! It was of no doubt that she loved him, she loved to be around him, to laugh at his silly jokes, to jab him in the ribs. But Adaku had serious tendencies of easily straying, especially since Arinze started visiting with his ancient jalopy of a car.
On most evenings, Ejike sat under the udara tree strumming his old guitar, the one his father once possessed. Two strings had come off, but it still produced music, music that his friend, Obi, said was good for the ears. When Adaku came visiting, he sang love songs to her, love songs that made her the envy of her friends. “Nwunye m,” he called her in his songs. Adaku was shy, so she only smiled broadly at him, and fiddled with the end of her blouse when he gazed at her too long. Sometimes, Ejike was brazen enough to take Adaku in a full embrace, her head resting on his shoulders, but whenever he caught his younger brother, Ekene, peeping through the window, his confidence would take a dive, and he would bring the embrace to a sad end. Once, he very nearly kissed Adaku. He wanted to practice the method Ramsey Noah had used on Genevieve in a recent movie, but had caught Ekene and his friend giggling like stupid idiots.
Ejike had been playing the guitar since he was twelve, when his father first appeared, and handed it to him. He had become so popular throughout the village that he was usually invited to perform at coronation ceremonies. Obi had gone to Johnny’s cyber cafe and registered for Ejike to audition for the Project Fame musical contest. So, the night before his audition, Ejike sat at his usual spot and dreamily played a lone tune. Finally, this was the passport to his fame, the manifestation of his dreams. Oh, the very many things he would do with the prize money. Adaku would not resist saying yes to him in the presence of ten Arinzes. He would dedicate his triumph to the memory of his father. He smiled wryly; he had to stop counting his chicks before they hatched, so he plucked at his strings with renewed enthusiasm and continued rehearsing the song he was going to sing for the audition, one he had composed. His voice rang high and clear, and in his world, nothing else at that moment mattered.
Ejike was one of the over two thousand people that stood in the scorching sun of the audition grounds awaiting their chance to prove their worth. His turn soon came and he was ushered into the room where the judges sat bored. He said a silent prayer as he introduced himself.
Ejike had only sung for less than thirty seconds before he was rudely interrupted. One of the judges had his head on the desk, and the only female amongst them was wagging her finger sorrowfully at him. She spoke rapidly with some sort of accent that Ejike had a hard time grabbing all she said.
“Is this a joke?” was all the third judge asked. He looked sincere.
“I could sing another song,” Ejike offered hopefully.
It was the woman again, “No, darling! That’s some cool folktale music, though. It’s a no from us. You’d be a hit at a wrestling match. Try your luck there. NEXT.”
Ejike trudged home, emotions overwhelming his thoughts, his miserable guitar slung on his back. All his dreams had vanished in the twinkling of an eye. His father was wrong afterall. The world had no use for his kind of music. After he had cleared his thoughts, he would go to uncle Pius to learn that business he talked to him about long ago. He walked past the heap of refuse that was the home of Maxbodo, the mad man. There he laid his father’s guitar to rest.
P.S: This story was a challenge from ‘Deolu Adeleye. He asked me to write a story on an extremely-talented genius who was afraid of attempting anything for fear of failure.
I, in return, asked him to write on a woman who has to deal with an autistic child (read his story here).
Let us both know what you think of our depictions, so kindly use the comment box, thanks.