CHAPTER ONE (I am Purpose)
He was considered arrogant, stubborn and always poised to see, and push things his way. Often, a trail of misdeeds and misdemeanors littered the little path he etched for himself but it was also without questions that he, Purpose, was smart— this was incontestable. It was a fact deeply engraved in his heart even as he stared into the seven foot mirror, a frown slowly looming on his face as he struggled to straighten the ruffles on his school uniform. His belt was too short. He had chopped off a few cruel centimeters from it to serve as an insulator in a miniature radio receiver he constructed a few days back.
Stooping down to adjust the strap of his sandals, he stole glances at the mirror. His large blue eyes, which always had gleams of mischief in them, came to rest on his oval-shaped head full of hair, which seemed not to shine as much as it should, despite the hair cream he nearly emptied on it. He brushed a hand over it and patted the afro to shape. He culled his socks up in his usual signature way and straightened.
Standing at about three foot five, he was too short for a twelve year old and admittedly, the shortest and smallest in his class. His mini body mass, pronounced by reticent facial features, created the façade that he could easily be bullied and walked over, but past encounters proved otherwise. Twice, he had been summoned to the principal’s office for getting in a fight with students double his size, fights he was going to end up getting whooped in. Thrice, he had set up three of his classmates who had made mockery of his head’s shape. The first got jammed up in the toilet, the second nearly lost a tooth after getting shorted by a door, and the third had her lunch box emptied and replaced with sand.
After another long self-appraising look at the mirror, he decided it was time to reconcile with Chi, his best friend.
“No, she isn’t my best friend, we are partners,” he mentally noted, as a line of worry crossed his face.
“And it isn’t good for partners to get emotionally attached.” He verbalized, repeating to himself Rule no. 33, Simple Rules for the Aspiring Detective; the book which now lay crumpled on his bed… he had slept on it again.
“No, she’s more than your partner; she’s your friend too.” Another voice in his head said, and so began the internal riot; each voice trying to drown out the other, the dialogue crescendoing into a cacophony in his poor not-so little head.
Breaking through the wild orchestra, a smooth soprano voice rang out, “Purpose, I gaghi eje akwukwo n’oge oo. You are going to be late for school.”
It was his mother and he was slightly startled. Jolted back to reality, the voices subsided… no victor, no vanquished.
He was getting late for school. He scoffed at another of his mother’s attempt to acquaint him with Igbo. He knew she only spoke the language every now and then so ‘her son’ would fall in love with it and start speaking it too but he wasn’t going to let it work.
“Nobody forces Purpose to do anything,” he muttered to himself as he picked his already packed duffel bag and the diary, and began walking out the room but not before taking one last glance at himself, in the mirror.
Racing down the flight of stairs, he screamed, “Mum, I’m coming!”
“Your breakfast is cold, young man.”
His mum’s sweet voice greeted him as he emerged into the ambient lit dining area.
“Mum, it isn’t cold unless it’s lower than room temperature and close to zero degrees Celsius…by the way I’m not feeling too hungry.”
Mrs. Kate Ogbonna shot him a glance; her brows elevated and pupils dilated a little, mirroring an inward dialogue.
“Where do you get all these from? Not me, certainly Ebuka,”
She chuckled as she thought of her husband, his father, who had run off to work to start off on some new scientific project.
“See what you’ve passed unto our son,”
She chuckled again, genuflecting as though she conversed with him, this time glaringly obvious to Purpose who had had a change of heart and quickly munched down into his chicken and egg toast bread sandwich.
Looking at his mum and wondering why she cackled and talked to herself, he couldn’t help but notice her beautiful purple gown with the little pink flowery things or were they threadings, on it.
“She is beautiful,”
He said to himself, his mouth struggling to hold onto the large chunk of bread he had squeezed in, with pieces of chicken clasped in between his teeth. “Yes, she is beautiful, just like Chi,” whispered a voice; that voice, in his head, running off as soon as it came. His face broke into a frown and then without warning, a reflexive smile began to emerge from the side of his mouth, or maybe a blush, only to be interrupted by the sharp voice of his mum,
“Get my keys, time to get off to school!”
Entering the car three minutes later, his face still caught the blush. When he checked his watch, only fifteen minutes had gone by since he stood in front of his mirror, although it seemed to have been aeons of light years.