A BEFRIENDED ENEMY

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WHAT'S MINE IS YOURS!

CHAPTER 7

Chidi met his friend in a terrible state.

Although he had prepared his mind to meet an unhappy man because he knows how devastated Obi can be whenever he fails to achieve anything, yet he was taken aback at the sorry sight he beheld.

“O..bi.....” he called hesitatingly in a lowly voice.

The depressed man in turn looked up. The world around them seemed to pause when both men saw each other. But Obi's gaze soon fell.

Although Chidi did not witness what happened to him at the hall, the news he gathered and the bodily injuries on Obi are evidences of how much his friend fought.

With a sullen expression he approached him. The friends sat near each other, short of words.

Obi only stared into space obviously lost in his thoughts, reminiscing on how and where he went wrong.

Not getting the award was one thing, but being humiliated was another. That hurts him even more.

How he has added value to Ohia community in his little way replayed in his mind. He could not come to terms with how he lost so much relevance on the same soil.....

Despite being the only fruit of his parents' long marriage, he was well trained to be responsible from a tender age. He did not depart from this upbringing as a young man, even till date.

Obi never engaged in any unhealthy youthful exuberance regardless of his mates indulgence in frivolities. One of such in Ohia was wrestling; a traditional game that tests one's prowess.

If there was any benefit of this activity, then it would be that in the long run, it tones the wrestler’s muscles and builds his stamina. Other than that, it only leaves the grappler sweaty and exhausted after each fight.

Regrettably, this activity at that time, was just for entertainment purposes. Obi was never interested in such shear waste of time.

The young man enrolled for part time studies in a neighbouring community, even when formal education was far fetched. He devoted his time to learning.

Then, he also helped his aged father with farm work at his leisure. They practised substinence farming but always had bountiful harvest because of his immense input. Therefore, they usually had enough food to eat and excess that could be sold.

The local market was however, saturated. There were more sellers than buyers since most of them were farmers. As a result, many of their commodities go to waste.

For the people of Ohia, the zeal and passion to find a functional market to sell their wares died a long time ago. This stems from the fact that, there were stories of robbery attacks on the trackways leading to other communities hosting the new markets.

The scary narratives are as old as Ohia itself but a mention of it still heighten the fears of the indigenes.

Though there has never been a first hand report of such attack, nevertheless no one dared to deny the narratives.

Co-incidentally, Obi’s quest for knowledge in the neighbouring community made him a suitable candidate to factualize the tales.

Upon his father’s insistence, Obi had to learn some wrestling skills. This became necessary for self defence whenever the need arises.

In readiness to combat the criminals who may show up on his way to success, he trained tirelessly. It was neither for passion nor entertainment. His purpose-driven training continued for a long time until he became prolific in the act.

Months rolled by, but there was no single raider on the dreaded routes!

Nonetheless, no buyer or seller had the guts to still thread the paths. They had a deep conviction that a student might not be attacked but a trader certainly will.

The community where Obi was schooling lacked what Ohia had in excess. Their soil and water bodies were polluted therefore the inhabitants relied on supplies from outside their territory.

A few overzealous ones in that community went the extra miles that others couldn’t go to source for farm produce from neighbouring villages.

Subsequently, they hiked the prices of food items unreasonably. Even at that, they barely met the needs of their people most of whom make down-payments for food supplies.

Worse still, the greedy traders cooked-up rumours of robbery attacks on inter-community pathways. They did this to discourage more people from joining their lucrative trade.

Again, no one dared to verify the fables.

Obi was always amazed by the exorbitant prices food items were sold where he schooled. Out of good will, he always brought farm produce for some of his friends and teachers from excesses they have back home.

When he convinced the people of the availability of excess foodstuff where he came from, they were interested in paying for the supplies. They barely get enough on their own soil but they couldn’t look elsewhere.

Obi was fair in his pricing and that yielded more patronages. As a result, the greedy indigenous traders began to experience a remarkable drop in their sales. That made them threaten the student, but that didn’t deter him in the slightest.

The student continued his trade. At first, he supplied pre-ordered farm produce only on the days he went to school. But demand increased and he in turn increased his supply. Soon enough, it started getting in the way of his studies.

So as not to jeopardise his good academic performance and also to ensure continuity of supply, Obi introduced some of his peers in Ohia to the new market. By extension, their parents, many more people and the community leader got informed too.

However, most of them especially, the women were scared to their wits. Although the men did not admit their fears openly, they declared that they were contented with the sales on their soil.

Only a few young men were interested in the new opportunity. One of those was Nkem who later conceived his transportation concept from this idea. Another was Chidi, his bossom friend whose sharp business acumen can be traced to the said good time.

The young traders had the support of their people and were advised to walk in groups and never alone.

The two communities enjoyed a seeming mutually beneficial relationship until one day, there was indeed an attack!

The traders from Ohia were ambushed while taking their wares to the other community.
To the victims’ dismay, the raiders were not interested in their money or even carting away with their goods. Rather, they were bent on destroying the farm produce in their possession.

The initial fright of the young traders soon disappeared, they engaged the crooks in a fight. Thankfully, they were all skilled wrestlers.

No single one of the Ohia youth had ever put their skills to constructive use as this. They gave it their all and the badly wounded attackers ran off in surrender, eventually.

Ohia's youth went home victorious although not without a remarkable loss of their goods.

The community heads were duly informed about the incident. They both stood up to their responsibilities of investigating the matter.

Obi was consulted. His report regarding the threat he got in the course of his trade helped the other community to fish out the bad eggs among them.

The criminals turned out to be the greedy traders. They all had unexplained bruises, sprains or fractures obviously from a bad beating. All evidences pointed at them. Since there was no hiding place any longer, they were compelled to confess.

Afterwards, peace reigned. The relationship between the two places was mended. Both communities traded freely without harbouring any fear. Many more communities keyed into the mutualism.

They never ceased to trace this success to the resourceful young Obi.

Despite all these, he was never in the fore front of fighting unless no one dared to take up the challenge. Such was the case when he came to Chidi’s rescue at the wrestling pitch when the latter fell into a deep sleep.

That was way back before the advent of the award recognition.

Relentlessly, he had chosen a career in teaching. He coached young lads both formally and informally. He passed on his knowledge from one generation to another.

As a seasoned teacher, Obi combines the skills of a wrestler in his chosen academic field; Physical and Health Education majoring in Gymnastics. And there has never been any misgivings about his impact among his kinsmen.

He also took it upon himself to organise wrestling competitions for his trainees. It started in a small way. However, this formed the foundation of big wrestling quests in later years. More spectators were attracted from within and outside Ohia, to these events.

Investors took advantage of the economic viability of this community. They invested hugely. The multinational company that gives back to the natives of Ohia is one of such investment.

Obi’s record has always been a clean one.

Unlike chidi who rose quickly to stardom but fell leaving a dent on his honour, even though time has healed his wound.

Obi soliloquized and simultaneously stirred back to reality, suddenly acknowledging his friend’s presence. Facing him, he asked:

"where did I go wrong?”

His act was so sudden that he caught his friend unaware. A mischievous grin was on Chidi’s face when he turned to him!

Chidi was thrown off balance for a short while. But he quickly replaced the grin with the melancholy look he wore initially; the supposed right look for the present situation.

Obi couldn’t mistake what he saw for something else. He knew what a mischievous grin coming from his friend was. He locked his gaze with his friend and asked again:

“where did I go wrong”?

Chidi replied:

“Let’s share the land I was awarded today. What’s mine is yours!”



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