Ten years after I left home I was on my way back, on holidays. I do not quite remember whether I came by train or by road but it was more likely by train since my father worked as a railway carpenter. What I remember vividly was that the last leg of my journey was by lorry. I sat with other passengers on one of the planks arranged in rows in the lorry and we sat facing backwards. It was already dusk when the driver’s assistant asked, `Where is that boy who said he was going to Ndike? We have already passed most of Ndike and are in St John’s.’ I got down and had my tinker box on my head. As the lorry moved on towards Ufuma I stood looking around, confused. I did not know where I was.
A woman who was standing nearby asked, `young man, where are you going? Who are you?’ When I told her, she exclaimed, `Janet Nwankwo’s son. But you are far from Eziokwe village. It is getting dark and you cannot walk that distance now by yourself since you do not even know where you are. Come with me. You can stay with me and go home tomorrow morning.’ Everywhere was strange and I followed her.
The next morning I, with my box on my head, walked the long distance back to Eziokwe. As I got nearer home I was recognised by many people and there was jubilation all the way home. Of course my mother was the happiest of all. Yes, it was the same old house whose construction I was old enough to have witnessed before leaving home. The construction had taken just a few days. Friends of my father moulded the mud walls and thatched the roof. It had four compartments. The entrance door led into the sitting room and straight to the back into the kitchen. On the left was my small room and further in was my father’s room. On the right in the sitting was a raised part at the extreme right for sleeping or sitting. It reminded me of the occasions I slept on a mat on it and being stung on the buttocks by one of those fiery ants that made me jump up with pain. Further in on the right was my mother’s room. The compound was surrounded by a palm frond boundary wall with gmelina plants at intervals.
It was nice to be home but it did not take me long to notice the absence of my two sisters, Patience then aged fourteen and Monica aged eleven. My mother’s answer to my question was that they were living in Cyril’s house. Cyril was her younger brother. I wondered whether they had heard of my home coming and why they did not come and see me. My mother did not encourage me to go and see them either. And I was not anxious to go and see him for the period I lived with him as a house boy was still vivid in my mind. As time went on I began to understand. My mother and her brother were at loggerheads. Uncle Cyril, a prominent member of our church, St Margaret’s church, had his own private church in his compound. The members were sworn to absolute loyalty to Uncle Cyril, a man with very dominant personality. It was something like a cult. To my amazement when my sisters came to our house dressed in white it was not to welcome me but to stand at the entrance to the house and pour invectives and all sorts of evil prophesy on the house and all its occupants. Furthermore whenever they saw our mother on the road they ran into the bush shouting all sorts of curses on her. I did not understand it and their behaviour tempered my enjoyment of the holidays.
On the positive side I discovered there was a fledgling students union being put together by Chukwuemeka Ike, an activist graduate teacher who happened to be my first cousin, and joined. There I met another likeable activist, Obinani Okoli.       

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