Date released:
July 19, 2021
Category:
Short story
Photo credit:

Volvo

I draw my jacket closer to my dry skin that should, by now, be invaded with goosebumps, and my gaze narrows through the window. Suddenly, the extraordinarily cold air escapes my attention. Instead, it trails the moving car by the side of the road. Anytime I see a Volvo 740, it gives me a nostalgic feeling. A tiny smile crawls up on my face as my mind wanders to the past. The Volvo automobile transports my mind to the good old days, and the joy raging in my stomach seduces me into visiting those bitter-sweet moments.

It all started on November 20th, my first year in secondary school. I vividly remember from that day: the dusty floor and the chirping sound of birds. Father blindfolded my eyes and led me to his brand new car. Slowly, he’d removed the blindfold, and when my eyes fell on the car, the smile on my face increased. I squealed like a kettle above boiling point and circled the car, the tip of my shuku flying. He’d parked it under the mango tree in front of the house.

“You don’t have to enter danfo to school anymore,” father said.

That very day, he drove me to school, our lips syncing to King Sunny Ade’s music playing on the radio. When we arrived at the front gate, the smile that was plastered boldly on my face vanished. Children my age dropped out of their luxurious cars with style. Then my gaze travelled around the vehicle. The flaws began to reveal themselves. The glasses were stained with cracks and dents. On the surfaces of the car were scratches and marks, accompanied by blemishes on the windows. An uneasy feeling began to settle in my stomach, I swallowed my saliva, hoping it’d flush away the sensation, but it got unbearable every second till it dawned on me. I was ashamed of the cranky second-hand scrap of metal.

Like bush-fire in the harmattan season, my lies began to sprawl. I had started making friends in school, and each day, when my father dropped me off, I pretended like I was asleep, bending my head to prevent anyone from seeing me. And when I got out of the car, I scrutinized my environment to confirm if I had not been seen. What I detested most about the car was the horn. It was as loud as a trumpet. Father occasionally used it to praise familiar passers’ or a cooperative driver. I realized I was still getting noticed despite my efforts. My lies increased. I made excuses to father and persuaded him to drop me off at a shop far away from school, trekking afterwards. I believed it was better to be seen strolling than getting off a scrap of metal.

One fateful day. Something happened. The universe taught me a lesson. The clouds formed a ghastly grey, and rain began to drizzle, sweeping the land. It was another journey to school. At first, I didn’t understand the gravity of what was awaiting me. The rain increased, and so was traffic on the road. We finally arrived at school, and I had no excuse to drop at the shop since the rain was heavy. Instead, father decided on something else. He drove into school; I tried to stop him, but he insisted, parking in between the school premises. Immediately, my heart began to pound faster than usual, my lips formed a straight line, and I began to sweat despite the weather.

My eyes wandered, trying to connect with my umbrella. I grumbled as I searched through the car.

“What are you looking for?” Father asked, peering behind.

“My umbrella,” I hissed, and he smiled. “You’re holding it, Aduke.”

He was right. Instantly, I bolted out of the car, silently praying for the ground to open up and swallow me. Then, I left the rain and entered the corridor.

“Aduke!”

I turned. It was father, and he was running in the rain without an umbrella. I realized he’d given me his own.

“You forgot your lunch money,” he said, stretching forth a hundred Naira note. “Buy puff puff

instead of sweets.” His bulgy eyes sparkled, and his gap teeth revealed.

Suddenly, a new sensation travelled along my spine. Father had gotten a new car because of me, and he’d made a lot of effort to send me to the prestigious school I was attending. Unfortunately, in the process of protecting my image, I'd lost myself. I had lost my sense of reasoning and misplaced my identity. I watched as he hopped into the car. The horn blared, and the tires circled on the wet floor as he sped off.

I chuckled softly and said. “I love you, baba," I wished he had heard me. Then I spun around, intending to maintain my newfound identity. No matter how many people had seen me get off the Volvo car, I didn’t care. There was no need to hide who I was. I was ready to face the world.

Slowly, I opened my eyes and scrutinized the students in the corridor. They were loitering and discussing, each lost in their circle. Then it hit me. No one had been watching.

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