Have you ever stayed in a rich home? Are you opportune to have rich parents? Do you live in one of those posh houses located at places dubbed Government Residential Areas? Then you can definitely relate to this story. Your journey to a rich school friend begins from the huge and gigantic iron bars called security gates. God help you if his house does not have a door bell, then you would have to knock untill your fists starts bleeding. When the underpaid gate man finally decides to open the door for you, after ages of waiting, then the real trouble starts.

“Who be rat? I say who be rat wey dey disturb me this afternoon?” The poorly educated gate man would bawl from the inside. His pidgin English is on point.
“It is me open the door”, you meekly answer.
” You be who? You be Queen Eliza?”
The gate man is having a field day using you as a pawn.
You start wondering how this illiterate gate man got this job with his husky and mannerless tone. Heavy heart pounding and intense stomach rumblings are clear indications that you are scared out of your skin. You try to bring the ‘I’m an undergraduate charisma’  to address his rude manner of approach. To your greatest surprise he sarcastically asks you where you parked your car. When you reply that you have no car this boy called Akpan tells you that his loyalty lies with people who moved around in Mercedes Benz and not your likes with ‘Legedees Benz’. Irritated you must now be but he does not give an ounce of care. You throw your head high up in pride, determined not to let common Akpan drag you down.

“Is Intelligence around?” You finally ask him. Deep down you feel awkward calling your friend by that name because he was the last word on Intelligence Street. Still you cannot change this trend of rich people giving names like Great, Endeavor, Tenacity, Virtue(trust me the list is endless) to their children. The gate man in a bid to spite you the more tells you that your friend ‘e no dey’.

Intelligence had called you just five minutes ago to tell you that he was still waiting for you. Luckily Intelligence calls out from the house :”Akpan no dey worry my friend!” The gate man opens the gate finally, still muttering curses under his breath. Good riddance to bad rubbish, serves Akpan right.

Your troubles are over, you think. As you venture into the marbled floor compound, you experience the worst fear of your life. You are still comparing the smooth feel of the flow with the slippery muddy floor in your house when two snarling Rottweiler breed dogs make a dash for you, the hunger in their eyes forces you to say your last prayer. You can hear your friend laughing as he says,”Don’t move, they won’t bite. Captain and Hero go to your cage.” Are you missing something, Intelligence put all this in place so that you would give him more respect in school. He was obviously slighted when you refused to assist him during the last mid-semester quiz.

Exchange of pleasantries as always was brief, phony and fake. Intelligence majestically led you into what he called ‘our humble abode’. In the living room you see his younger siblings saturated with the X Box game. How you wished you had one when you were their age? Intelligence asks you if you would like to join them and you shamefully admit that you could not play. “Which Punk Ass cannot play an X Box.” That must be one of his siblings, yet you quickly brushed the comment aside. You sit down, whilst resisting the urge to stare too much,  just as Intelligence’s mom entered the room. She starts her unceasing questions: Who are you? Who are your parents? What are your parents occupation? Where do you live? Where do you hail from? Are you  Intelligence’s friend? What makes you think so? Are you a cultist? What is your CGPA?! That was the height of it! She leaves the house for one of her social gatherings, you are now pressed. Intelligence shows you to the toilet. You are confused at first but you are saved from further embarrassment with the help of the knowledge you got from foreign novels and movies. Ol’ boy, they came in handy.

“Your toilet has a self-flush system.” You could not hide the amazement from your grinning friend.

Lunch time! You feign ‘not hungry’ at the same time praying that Intelligence would beg you more. After much persuasion, you decide to eat. The food was foofoo and meat! What was in the stainless bowl was not the quintessential soup you were used to. It was large chunks of meat punctuated sparingly by vegetables. That quantity of meat was what your mother uses for the weekly soups and stews. You could not help but notice Intelligence’s siblings making funny faces at you. In fact you overheard him arguing with his younger sister about ‘giving out their food to that hungry boy’.
The rest of the afternoon is spent uneventfully except for the frequent trips to the freezer to collect plates of ice cream and chocolate cakes. You look at the time and it is time to go home, you stand up despite Intelligence’s plea for you to stay longer. You bid farewell to the X Box boys who do not even deem it fit to look up. Intelligence volunteers to see you off. The two of you pass Akpan’s duty post. The once rude gate man greets you politely, all the traces of arrogance gone. Your friend admonishes Akpan to be courteous to his visitors. At the gate Intelligence stuffs a crumpled one thousand naira note into your left pocket, you protest strongly while thanking your stars for little mercies. At least you have been paid your ‘disturbance allowance’. Are you going to visit again? Your guess is as good as mine.
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FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART

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