Posted by News Express | 5 March 2021 | 2,015 times
There lived a boy in the village of Otukpo in Benue State, Middle Belt of Nigeria. He lived with his parents, and had three other siblings; the family was a god-fearing one and lived happily. Itipa had one sister and two other brothers in his family comprising three boys and a girl-child, Itipa’s dad was a peasant farmer, which is concerned with the production of food for the farmer and his family. So Itipa's dad was basically involved in agriculture for himself and to meet his family’s immediate food needs.
Itipa was the second child of the family. His elder brother, Ochuko is an apprentice at a mechanic workshop close to their village. Itipa was a brilliant child; in his school he took the third position three times in a row in a class of 49 students. He was in Junior Secondary School 2 as at the time.
Itipa’s best food was pounded yam, beans and plantain; he loves it so much that on weekends he follows his dad to their large farm and he specially plants his own yam on a separate space on his dad farmland. The whole members of his family are also aware of his choice of food preference, and they usually cook it.
Itipa was a very good child. Even when they do not cook his favourite, if he doesn’t want to eat the cooked food, he pretends like he will eat it and secretly takes it to a beggar on the far end of their village. He did this while time persists and no one knew this little secret of his.
Itipa had a little problem which affected his choice of friends; they bully him often times at school and this started during his first term when he newly gained admission into the junior secondary school. Since then, he has no friends except a few that genuinely loves him. He was simply bullied because he was very short; his height was too obvious to be seen with a perfect comparison with the looks of Aki and Pawpaw.
One day, Itipa went to school as usual and his favourite meal was not cooked. His mother cooked Ogbono soup and Eba that morning and they packaged it for him to take to school. He didn't tell his mother that he won’t eat it; and that same day was their Open Day when parents visit their children in school. Although the night before the Open Day, Itipa gave the letter to his dad and his dad said he was going to be the one to visit his school the following day not knowing that after the discussion, his dad had already told Itipa's mum to represent the family at the school’s Open Day the following day.
So, Itipa did not know his mum was the one to visit his school as he was expecting his dad at the event. An ‘Open Day’ is when parents of a child/ward visits their child’s school to check on the educational progression and as well their academic performance for a period of time.
Itipa's mum went to the school finally and went to Itipa’s class; because it was almost break time, Itipa had given the food to his closest ally in school, Chukwu Abarinda. Chukwu Abarinda has been Itipa’s friend since primary school and, fortunately for both of them, they got into the same secondary school and life began for them again.
When Itipa’s mother approached his classroom to check up on him that she’s around, lo and behold, Chukwu Abarinda was comfortably eating Itipa’s eba and ogbono soup in Itipa’s significant bowl of food. When the mother saw it, she was shocked because she never expected her son to starve when he was actually supposed to eat his food during at break time. What was supposed to be an open day of checking of Itipa’s notebooks and every other things turned out to be something else; and another cause for a debate in Itipa’s school.
The mum asked Itipa in front of his classmates, where they are about 64 in number. She asked: “Why is someone else eating your food?”
Itipa, gripped with fear, was shivering while responding “muuuummmmy, I’m sorry ma, I’ve not been eating all my non-favourite food that you've been cooking.”
“Why didn’t you tell me all these while to always cook your favourite at all times; no wonder you’ve been deforming physically and you’ve not been growing so well,” the mother said.
What was supposed to be an Open Day at Itipa’s school turned out to be Itipa’s show, because of how he skipped meals that was not his favourite, So the principal of his school summoned him and the mother of Itipa and also his friend that eats his food to her office and tried to resolve it all amicably so as not to cause any future rancour and also to get the full details of how it began till the current moment.
After a long dialogue between them, the principal came to a final conclusion: that often times Itipa’s favorite food should be cooked for him, and also to curb his deformity of his body posture because when you see him it was obvious he has not been feeding well. Then they left the principal’s office and Itipa went back to his class with also his friend and the mother did the final thing during the open day and went back home. When Itipa’s mother got home that day around noon time she met her husband Itipa’s dad looking tired after a hectic day at the farm.
She transmitted everything that happened at Itipa’s school to him and he was astonished and screamed in his loud voice by saying, “whaaaaaaaaat”? And asked how can his child keep that a secret to himself about the kind of food he wants daily; he also exclaimed and said “no wonder that's why he has not been growing so well.” So, he said when he gets back from school he was going to give him 15 strokes of the cane for being deceitful with them to pretend he eats every food they give to him not knowing that he wastes his hard-earned food being given to him. Itipa's dad was very angry at everything the wife told him and he had a long day already from the tediousness of his farming activity that day.
Also, in school Itipa was no longer himself because, deep down, he knows his dad is a very disciplined man to the core and would never take any nonsense from him and he knows he has done a nonsensical act and he felt guilty all through the rest of the day at school. When he got home that day after his school closed academic activities for that day, he was shivering while entering into their compound, he got into the living room and he saw no one. When he went to the backyard, he saw his mum and greeted her; she responded to him and slightly told him that his dad is very angry and has said he will flog him 15 strokes of cane.
He started crying, but his mother told him not to cry that she knows what she will do to calm him down and plead on his behalf to be lenient. So Itipa wiped off the tears off his face and went straight to his room to pull off his school uniform and took a cold bath then afterwards his dad was actually sleeping in his own room when he came back from school and he then woke up and asked the wife if Itipa was back from school and she said yes. The wife knelt down on her two knees and pleaded heavily to Itipa's dad not to flog him. She said: “You know kids will always be kids; if he has a grown up or an adult, he won’t have acted that way. Please, forgive him and what we are meant to do at this point is to call together and advice and engage him on a lengthy talk about how to be more open and always come to us for anything bothering him; whatsoever at every point in time.”
Later on after lunch, they summoned him to come to the living room and engaged him by telling him he shouldn't hide things from them anymore; that they love him wholeheartedly and they will provide the very best for him with the best ability and knowledge God has given to them. So he prostrated and cried heavily so the parents pulled him up and wiped the tears off his face.
That same night, they cooked his favourite food, pounded yam and egusi soup. They all ate and laughed about what has happened earlier and they all had a sound sleep and rested for the following day activity.
•Mike-Nifty is a curator, economist and public affairs analyst: firstname.lastname@example.org
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